Changing Lenses: A New Focus For Crime & Justice
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Crime victims have many needs, most of which our criminal justice system ignores. In fact, the justice system often increases the injury. Offenders are less ignored by this system, but their real needs -- for accountability, for closure, for healing -- are also left unaddressed. Such failures are not accidental, but are inherent in the very definitions and assumptions which govern our thinking about crime and justice. Howard Zehr, director of the Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Office of Criminal Justice, proposes a "restorative" model which is more consistent with experience, with the past, and with the biblical tradition. Based on the needs of victims and offenders, he takes into account recent studies and biblical principles.
Changing Lenses examines our assumptions about crime and justice, which it terms a 'retributive' lens or paradigm. It then looks at historical, biblical, and practical alternatives.
Howard Zehr of Harrisonburg, Virginia, is a writer and consultant on criminal Justice issues. He is co-director of Conflict Transformation Program and a professor of restorative justice at Eastern Mennonite University.