Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Restoring Justice

Over the years, countless people have asked me The Question. People who have never been imprisoned (and who think my 16 years behind bars makes me an expert) are especially prone to ask it.

"You seem to be very well informed about criminal justice issues," The Question usually begins, "how would you reform the criminal justice system?"

It's a tough question. And I usually respond by saying that the U.S. Gulag System is beyond "reform". The notion of "reform" concedes that, as Margaret Thatcher quipped about capitalism, "There Is No Alternative." But there is at least one criminal justice alternative: Restorative Justice.

Restoring Justice, by Daniel Van Ness and Karen Heetderks Strong (Anderson Pub., 1997) provides a thorough conceptual, theoretical, and practical overview of restorative justice. Other good books have been written on the topic, most notably Changing Lenses, by Howard Zehr (Herald Press, 1990). But Restoring Justice pushes beyond the frontiers of restorative justice laid out by previous books, both extending and clarifying the definition of the topic.

"In the following chapters," the authors write in the book's forward, "we present our arguments for why criminal justice is in need of a new vision, and we propose that this need be met by restorative justice. Further, we explain our understanding of what restorative justice means, and explore the fundamental underpinnings upon which we can build restorative justice into policy and practice. We end the book with a chapter on steps toward bringing the new vision into reality."

What, might you ask is restorative justice? I don't know if two or three 28-page issues of PLN entirely devoted to the topic could adequately answer that question. One of the best answers I can offer, then, is: "Read this book."

Restoring Justice is available for $24.95 plus $4.00 S&H, prepaid, from: Anderson Publishing Co.; P.O. Box 1576; Cincinnati, OH 45201-1576; 1-800-582-7295.

Anderson Publishing carries scores of books on topics of interest to PLN readers, including: Briefs of Leading Cases in Corrections; Constitutional Rights of Prisoners; Crimes of the Criminal Justice System; Prison Violence in America; and much more. Call or write for a list of titles and prices.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login