'Justice'

Restorative Justice & Ferguson

Posted on 13. Dec, 2014 by .

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The following article is from The Peace Alliance and written by Dorothy J. Mavor, PhD:

As people all over the country take to the streets following the Grand Jury decision in Ferguson, one thing is imminently and painfully clear. There is serious unrest and dissatisfaction at the heart of the US citizenry regarding the very system that was designed to keep people safe and secure. And the USA is not alone. All over the world we are recognizing the need for systemic change as we experience an all-systems crisis.

In response to the protests of the Grand Jury decision in Ferguson, Molly Rowan Leach, host of Restorative Justice on the Rise, and contributor to Kosmos Journal  shares:

“MLK Jr once said that a riot is the upswell of unheard voices. Restorative justice is foundationed in mutual respect and a safe place for all voices to be heard, regardless of the pitch of the crime. The pattern of agony and injustice that continues with the Michael Brown case could, and I believe is soon going to be, addressed on a very deep community level–by practitioners of restorative justice, by all the wide circles of those impacted, and often with the blessing of those harmed and those authoring harm, in order to discontinue the cycles of violence that are evident at excruciating levels in this country. We are seeing an upswell of humanity calling for a better way, in places like Seattle in response to the recent school shooting, and a call for immediate and respectful actions that provide tangible avenues towards voicing pain and working towards any semblance of rebalance and implementation of longer-term systems of restorative response.”

Director Sandy Heierbacher, in her message to the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation community, stated:

“Last night, President Obama addressed the nation after it was announced that Darren Wilson would not be indicted … He talked about America’s long-standing struggle with race relations and racial inequity, and how despite considerable progress being made over the years, much more work needs to be done.  He emphasized the need for criminal justice reform and for stronger police-community relations.  He mentioned that there are communities that have been able to deal with this in an effective way. Here is a quote that I’d like to draw your attention to: ‘But what we want to do is to make sure that we’re also focusing on those who can offer the kind of real progress that we know is possible, that the vast majority of people in Ferguson, the St. Louis region, in Missouri and around the country are looking for. And I want to be partners with those folks, and we need to lift up that kind of constructive dialogue that’s taking place.”

Director Heierbacher further shared that one of President Obama’s strategies is to work with the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service (CRS) which has offices in 15 locations across the country.

There is a window of opportunity in the USA for authentic dialogue regarding how to address social justice, criminal justice and an increasing prison population. The approach Kosmos supports is solutions-oriented, focusing on what we want and creating the conditions for that systemic change. It seems that the US is at a tipping point regarding such an opportunity. The question remains whether it can be done through dialogue and deliberation rather than protest and prosecution.

Restorative Justice Oakland Youth Executive Director Dr. Fania E. Davis shared the essence of her work in the public schools in a recent interview:

“Learning about RJ integrated the lawyer-warrior-healer in me. Prevailing retributive justice harms people who harm people to show that harming people is wrong. It adds to the original harm. Harmed people go on to harm other people. Harm replicates, metastasizes. RJ seeks to interrupt this vicious cycle by healing the harm. RJ is a justice that is not about getting even, but about getting well. A justice that is not a battle ground but a healing ground. A justice that seeks to transform broken lives, relationships, and communities rather than damage them further. A healing justice rather than a punishing justice … Children in Oakland, considered one of the most violent cities in the nation, are today learning a new way of navigating conflict through Restorative Justice.”

In the Washington Post it was reported that U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Monday night called Brown’s death a “tragedy” that has “sparked a national conversation about the need to ensure confidence between law enforcement and the communities they protect and serve.”

We agree and also know that DMC (Disproportionate Minority Contact) is a serious problem in cities such as Ferguson. In Gainesville, Florida, the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding (RPCP)  has been working for a safer community with Law Enforcement over the past three years. Their work includes a program directly addressing DMC, training in social-emotional skills, and is leading to embedding Restorative Justice principles in the system. This transformational comprehensive approach is now becoming a translatable process model for other communities.

Jeffrey Weisberg, RPCP Executive Director shares:

“We are so heartened by the response that we have received from officers and youth alike involved in our joint DMC program. Witnessing the shift of negative perceptions that both entities oftentimes have of each other after just a five hour interpersonal experience is extremely promising. This program feeds in beautifully to creating trusting relationships and community policing. Thanks to our Chief of Police, Tony Jones, many of our officers have taken restorative justice training in order to better understand our youth.”

As US citizens we share responsibility for what is happening in Ferguson and around the country. As global citizens we share responsibility for what is happening around the world. Let us put out a call to our policy makers local to global, demanding systemic change. And let us do this by offering solutions and ways to move through these crisis-filled times. One such solution in the area of law enforcement and criminal justice is Restorative Justice.

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Christmas & Holiday Liturgy Resources

Posted on 25. Nov, 2014 by .

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From the National Farm Worker Ministry:

cross-and-vine-christian-clipart“Prayer and reflection are the basis of NFWM’s work and an important source of support.

The worship materials may be used alone – a simple prayer to open a meeting, as one element of a larger liturgy – or in combination to create a worship service on themes of farm worker justice.”

To view these worship materials, click here!

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Human Trafficking to Appear in Airline Magazines

Posted on 21. Nov, 2014 by .

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unnamedThe U.S. Catholic Sisters against Human Trafficking have gotten an ad pro bono from Bailey Lauerman PR firm in Omaha, NE as a way of raising awareness of the staggering numbers of people this issue affects. In hopes that hundreds of thousands of people see the ad, they chose to place it in airline magazines from American and US Airlines.

Human trafficking is modern day slavery. While many find it hard to believe that slavery exists in the United States, Catholic sisters know that it is all too real. They continue to organize to affect the problem at the local, state, national and international level. For more information visit the Bakhita Initiative website.

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First EFI Farm Certification

Posted on 09. Nov, 2014 by .

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Responsibly grown. Farmworker assured.e9574b_77cbcd77fdf449ce89d71f9de03e7c9a.jpg_srz_308_231_75_22_0.50_1.20_0

That is the slogan for the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI). On October 22, the EFI issued its first Farm Certifications to the Andrew & Williamson Strawberry Farm and the Earthbound Farm, which produces salad greens and vegetables. This certification assures safe working conditions, pesticide management and food safety. To read more about the certification and about EFI, visit their website!

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How Protecting Wildlife Helps Stop Child Labor and Slavery

Posted on 04. Sep, 2014 by .

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The following is from NPR and was written by Michaeleen Doucleff

 

When scientists talk about the destruction of rain forests or the acidification of oceans, we often hear about the tragic loss of plants and animals.

But ecologists at the University of California, Berkeley say there’s also a human tragedy that frequently goes unnoticed: As fish and fauna are wiped out, more children around the world are forced to work, and more people are forced into indentured servitude, scientists wrote Thursday in the journal Science.

“My students, postdocs and I spent a year stepping back and trying to connect the dots between wildlife decline and human exploitation,” says ecologist Justin Brashares, who led the study. “We found about 50 examples around the world.”

One of those examples made international headlines in June when the Guardian published a report about slavery in the Thai shrimping industry.

“Large numbers of men bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand are integral to the production of prawns,” the British newspaper reported. These shrimp are “sold in leading supermarkets around the world, including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco,” the report said.

The world’s food supply, both here in the U.S. and abroad, is increasingly connected to child labor and human trafficking, Brashares says. And the problems aren’t just in the fishing industry or large supply chains that stock megagrocery stores. Many of the world’s poorest people are turning to exploitative labor practices to earn a living and feed their families as traditional sources of food disappear.

Wild animals, both on land and in the sea, provide incomes for about 15 percent of the world’s population, Brashares and his team wrote. These animals are also the main source of protein for many of these people.

“We have more than 1 billion people on our planet whose livelihood and survival is tied to rapidly declining resources,” Brashares says. “They’re not going to take it lying down, nor should they.”

As the fish in the ocean decline and forests are destroyed, families have to work harder and harder to get the same nutrition or wages. For instance, many communities in West Africa have hunted animals in local forests for thousands of yearsBecause of deforestation, now many hunters there must travel for days to find prey, Brashares and his team wrote in Science.

To make up for these extra costs, hunters and fishermen around the world have increasingly turned to cheaper labor. In many cases that ends up being children or people in desperate situations.

“Child labor and slavery is exploding because the time needed to catch fish [or hunt animals] has gone up exponentially,” Brashares says.

But many policies and laws aimed at stopping these abuses focus on stopping traffickers instead of trying to fix the source of the problem, he says. “The government’s strategy of tracking down key traffickers and arresting them is missing the scale of the problem and the underlying issues driving them: the rapid destruction of wildlife.”

Brashares thinks biologists need to work together with politicians, economists and social scientists to figure out ways to slow down the destruction of the environment. At the same time, communities that depend on local wildlife for food and income should have the rights to these natural resources, he says.

“We need to target areas where we know reliance on wildlife is the largest,” Brashares says. “Then local communities need to have tenure rights to these animals. This strategy may be working against the U.S. economically in the short term, but in the long term, it’s a no-brainer for the world.”

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