Native Justice and Pragmatic Mercy

"They've always approached the criminal law problem as a problem of healing rather than as a problem of punishment, whereas whites tend to look at it the other way around."

This is a quote from Judge Peter Ayotte whose work at the Alexis reserve in central Alberta has served to bring a breakthrough in native-justice. Recidivism is down, while hope and the health of the reserve is up. And it's all because of community-lead restorative justice. What I'd call hard-nosed mercy.

At Edmonton's Hope Mission we are familiar with the over representation of aboriginals in our shelters. We are also familiar with the this same phenomenon in the prison system because our shelters often serve as a kind of halfway-house for aboriginals getting out of jail.

That's why the article by David Staples, "Breaking the shackles of white justice", is so hopeful and heartening.

For anyone interested in what's happening in the restorative justice arena, or for anyone just needing some good news, it's well worth the read. Check it out in the Sunday Reader of today's Edmonton Journal.

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