Restorative Justice: Moving Beyond Punishment
United Methodist Mission Study
"Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law . Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law." Romans 13:8,10 (NRSV)
Many people live much closer to the world of crime, violence, courtrooms, jails, and prisons that anyone should have to. In the United States, the past 20 years have seen a tremendous increase in the population of prisons. We have seen children who have committed crimes sentences to prison terms that will end long into their adulthood. Some prisons are run by corporations under government contract. Racial profiling, the death penalty, the rights of victims are all issues our society faces.
The Bible offers a vision of restoration and healing. Many dream of a system of justice for all God's people--one which builds up and transforms rather than isolates and punishes. General Conference has called The United Methodist Church to focus upon Restorative Justice ministries. This mission study is one response to that call.
Restorative justice advocates restitution rather than retribution; it is concerned neither with blame and punishment nor with forgiving and forgetting but with remembering, truth telling, repenting, forgiving, and healing. The goal of restorative justice is to change wrongdoers and, insofar as possible, to make wrongs right.
Basic Resources can be ordered from the Service Center. Other resources in this bibliography should be ordered from the publisher or a bookstore.
Beyond the issues of how to prevent people from entering the prison system is how to care for those already behind bars.