courts Judges Lawyers Restorative Justice Solution-Focused Therapeutic Jurisprudence

Lawyers promote restorative justice & therapeutic jurisprudence

While a lot of “lawyer dissing” goes on, some of it easily understandable, many lawyers and judges (who are also lawyers) should be recognized for promoting restorative justice and therapeutic jurisprudence.

Judge Gordon McConnell was instrumental in the first modern restorative justice case. John Braithwaite, in Restorative Justice and Responsive Regulation, cites a paper by Peachy, D.E., 1989, “The Kitchener Experiment” In Mediation and Criminal Justice: Victims, Offenders and Community, edited by M. Wright and B. Galaway, London: Sage, describing the first case in the modern restorative justice movement. Others have also said that this 1974 case, which occurred in the town of Elmira near Kitchener, in Ontario, Canada, was the beginning of “victim offender mediation.” Russell Kelly has written a fascinating description of this first case explaining he committed the crimes and was a teenager at the time committed. Mr. Kelly and another other young friend were intoxicated and decided to “raise some hell” by randomly slashing tires and seriously vandalizing parked cars. He describes how his insightful probation officer Mark Yantzi thought it would be more meaningful for the two teens to personally meet with the 22 victims of their crimes instead of going to jail. Probation officer Yantzi convinced Judge McConnell, who presided over the criminal case, to allow the teens to address their crime restoratively. The two teens went into the homes of the 22 victims, which Mr. Kelly describes as “one of the hardest things I had ever done in my life.” The teens also made plans for reparation with the victims that they followed through with and avoided jail time.

Since 1974 and Judge McConnell’s support for a restorative solution, other judges have promoted these types of interventions in criminal cases including David Carruthers head of the New Zealand parole office; Barry Stuart a Canadian judge and co-author of the book Peacemaking Circles: From Crime to Community; Janine Geske from Wisconsin; Michael Town and Leslie Hayashi from Hawai’i, are all examples of judges who have promoted restorative justice.

Other lawyers who have furthered the restorative justice movement include Daniel Van Ness author of many publications; Mario Ottoboni who conceived of the idea of restorative prisons in Brazil; Sunny Schwartz author of Dreams of the Monster Factory; and Linda Mills New York University professor and author of many publications.

And it was two lawyers who became law professors, David Wexler and the late Bruce Winick, that co-founded therapeutic jurisprudence, which is the foundation for drug and specialty courts throughout the world. A bench book for courts by former Australian judge Michael King is available on line: J. Kim Wright a lawyer started the Cutting Edge Law website, which provides resources for people who envision a positive response to: “What if Lawyers were Peacemakers, Problem Solvers and Healers of Conflicts?”

Of course there are many other judges and lawyers, and many people who are not judges and lawyers, who have helped promote restorative justice and therapeutic jurisprudence. These are simply examples of lawyers who have helped advance these interventions to improve our justice system.

Leave a Reply