The People Have Spoken…But What Do We Really Want?

Nov 9, 2021 | Messages from Mika, Not Quite RJ But Related

Dear Friend of RJI,

One thing is certain, during the primary in June and last week in the general election, rising crime rates and public safety were at the forefront of New York City voters’ minds. But can our elected officials deliver what we really want?

Most New Yorkers can agree that we want to be safe in our homes, workplaces, transit, neighborhoods, and schools. But when it comes to the means for achieving safety—like the rest of the country—we are deeply divided. 

Crime has always been a highly politicized topic in the U.S. Many restorative justice practitioners and advocates prefer to talk about harm rather than crime; because not all harm is criminalized, not all crime harms people, and criminal law is not enforced evenhandedly across communities.  

The language we use and where we put our attention matters. Restorative justice invites us to look at root causes, not simply to focus on isolated incidents or individual behaviors. Restorative justice can hold subtlety and nuance that’s rarely present in campaign slogans and policy platforms. We need to embrace subtlety and nuance and resist the urge to gravitate toward good vs. evil, us vs. them explanations and solutions to harm. This is not a cultural shift that our politics or politicians can deliver.  

That’s why RJI is building a grassroots network of support for restorative approaches in New York City.

In solidarity,

Mika