The following is the opening of an article from the Bangor Daily News by Judy Harrison.


Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 9.50.55 AMMaine is on the edge of a major reform to its criminal justice system that would replace the current punitive culture with restorative justice principles, an organizer of a daylong conference told participants Tuesday.

Sponsored by the Restorative Justice Institute of Maine based in Augusta, about 100 people, including district attorneys, jail officials, police officers, advocates, volunteers and employees with the Department of Corrections and the Department of Health and Human Services attended. Speakers from California, Vermont, Nova Scotia, Canada, and the United Kingdom addressed the theme of the conference — “Realizing our Vision of a Restorative State.”

“This can be the beginning of a new day in which we collectively catch a vision for a state that truly cares for its victims, focuses on prevention, is serious about rehabilitation and prepares persons for integration into society,” Richard Snyder, chairman of the institute’s board of directors, said in his opening remarks. “This can be the beginning of a new day in which communities work hand in hand with professionals in responding to crime and wrongdoing.

“This can be the beginning of a new day in which the financial costs of responding to crime are lowered, the revolving door stopped, and the waste of human lives is greatly diminished, if not ended altogether,” he continued. “This can be the beginning of a new day in which our children learn how to deal with conflict in ways that bring people together. This can be the beginning of a new day in which the culture of punishment is replaced by a culture of caring and healing.”


 Here's an interesting exchange from further down the page:

When asked during a break about how restorative justice principles could be applied in the prank at Mount Desert Island High School where seniors dumped a large amount of fish bait into the building, [Jonathan Kidde, head of the statewide juvenile justice diversion program in Vermont] said the students involved most likely would have to listen to the janitors or whoever cleaned up the mess describe that task. Kidde said a group made up of school officials, other students and members of the community would decide the punishment for the juveniles involved.

Read "Instead of punishing, can Maine foster a more caring justice system?"

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