This article was origanally published by Brian at Fankenstein Government onDecember 14, 2010.
Government Failure, Ignoring The Rule of Restorative Justice
I quickly became a convert. On a small local scale, I had the unique ability to actually listen and comprehend what crime victims were telling me. In our offices, in our courtrooms, and at our post office. Victims who would find that our criminal justice system doesn’t really give a rat’s ass about their being victims. Was that true? Well, I had heard it dozens if not hundreds of times. So often actually, it became difficult to ignore. The problem the legal system has is the same problem our government has. It makes sense- they run both systems.
They don’t listen. They don’t think they have to.
Here then is a comparison and the different approaches of these two types of justice. If you have ever been a crime victim, and odds are that you have, you will like this.
Restorative Justice posits a paradigm shift that is best understood by asking the oft-quoted “three questions.” The more common three questions for a system of justice to ask are “1. What laws have been broken?, 2. Who did it?, 3. What do they deserve?” Restorative justice asks, “1. Who has been hurt?, 2. What are their needs?, 3. Whose obligations are these?”
This is an interesting concept. If victims could acquire the same distrustful beliefs, based on the indifference of the legal system, was it not in fact true? How about hundreds and thousands of victims spanning my 25 year career? These victims were often not consulted, nobody really cared what their wishes were, and the only consultation they received was some trial prep on how to answer questions and the mean things a defense attorney might say. In a sense, these victims felt victimized twice.
Now let’s move this micro view to a macro scale. What would happen if the entire taxpaying base of the United States were victimized at once? Millions of people out of work, millions more losing their homes? Millions more losing all of their home equity and savings? What would happen as they saw government ignore the rule of law, bail out the criminals, and not prosecute a single one? What would they think as Goldman Sachs reported record earnings and the same criminals that ripped them off got big bonus checks?
You are witnessing it now. I have never seen America more angry. They have watched as this indifferent government does nothing. Fat cops, doing nothing, in the donut shop. They have formed a collective belief, and rightfully so, made far worse because they all became victims at once. They lost a lot of money and they are not going to forget despite a government that desperately wishes they would. The government wants and needs quick forgetters. Barack Obama for all of his fancy degrees, didn’t stand a chance. He ignored the victims and still does. Any two term Sheriff seeking re-election is aware of this principle.
The American people do not trust government. They do not trust greedy and corrupt bankers and rightfully so. There can be no recovery until there is restorative justice. The criminals have been allowed to escape. Those same Americans, the millions that just got ripped off, have been marginalized and ignored. We cannot have a recovery until some sense of sanity, fair play, and a willingness to restore justice in the American people comes to pass. Until then, a pissed off America is simply going to dig in it’s heels. It will not hire people, it will not invest, it will not trust. This country cannot turn that corner without the help of the millions of innocent victims who continue to pay a mortgage on a house worth half of what it used to be. All of the money printing and passionate pleas for more unemployment will not save you Mr. Obama. The American people are entitled to and deserve restorative justice. Maybe President Obama, instead of talking so much, you should try listening.