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Promoting Restorative Justice

WHEREAS, despite the fact that African-Americans make up less than 13% of the U.S. population, half of the two million Americans incarcerated in the nation's jails and prisons today are African-Americans; and

WHEREAS, the effects of this mass incarceration on the imprisoned individuals and the families they leave behind are nothing short of devastating; as children are left without parents, parents without their children, and communities robbed of promise as well as federal and state resources based on that community's population; and

WHEREAS, the tragedy is magnified when severe prison terms are dispensed for poor choices made by very young people; such as the case of Genarlow Wilson who, at the age of 17, was sentenced to ten years in prison for consensual sex with a classmate; and

WHEREAS, the aims of restorative justice programs are defined by putting key decisions into the hands of those most affected by crime, making Justice more healing and transformative and reducing the likelihood of future offenses; and

WHEREAS, restorative justice programs achieve these goals by ensuring that offenders accept responsibility for their actions and make reparations through:

  1. Involving victims in the process of holding offenders accountable; 
  2. Focusing on the outcome of repairing harms done and;
  3. Creating context-specific plans to meet the needs of the victim and to allow the offender to provide restitution and become reintegrated into the community

WHEREAS, restorative justice programs offer an alternative to the traditional justice system by implementing consequences at the community level that ensure safer neighborhoods, restitution for victims, lower recidivism rates, fewer families tom apart; and

WHEREAS, restorative justice programs focus on rehabilitation of offenders who, without such services, are extremely challenged to find work, secure housing, and manage day-to-day needs and thus become more likely to re0offend and perpetuate the cycle of harm to the community; and

WHEREAS, restorative justice programs empower victims by offering them the opportunity to play a role in the resolution of the crimes by which they were affected; and

WHEREAS, more than 90% of those who go to prison will eventually be released and two-thirds of individuals released from prison will eventually find their way back into the justice system; and

WHEREAS, restorative justice is a way to hand justice back to communities, apply common sense and equity to sentencing and ensure that people with the potential to be contributing members of society, especially juvenile offenders, are not thoughtlessly sacrificed by a system that does not consider the long term consequences of incarceration without rehabilitation; and

WHEREAS, restorative justice offers a path for the possibility of reinventing the dysfunctional American justice system and is known to reduce the recidivism rate of offenders, resulting in safer communities and fewer African Americans behind bars; and

WHEREAS, restorative justice programs are disproportionately available to those in wealthy and non-minority communities, despite the crucial potential they have to be particularly beneficial to low-income and minority communities.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP will advance a long term strategy to educate its membership and others on restorative justice principles and programs; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP will promote restorative justice principles wherever possible, seek expansions in restorative justice programs at the local, state, and national level, and hold state governments accountable for collecting data on the status and quality of restorative justice programs to ensure that these programs are equally accessible to communities without race or class bias.

Together Power Vote Hero - NAACP

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