Edward Buckner, president of the Original 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club, writing about the tragedy surrounding their Mother’s Day Parade, seeks a restorative-justice approach that would “more deeply repair the harm.” Buckner, a former board member of our organization, knows that our current system of criminal justice is not working.
Most people who harm others see themselves only as someone breaking the law. Their concern becomes how to “beat the system,” and serving time is not a disincentive for many, but a badge of honor. And what about the person who is harmed, the victim? How much voice does the victim have in our current criminal justice system, where defense lawyers, prosecutors and judges hold the power? In the restorative approach the victim’s voice is heard and their needs are met.
Restorative practices, whether in the criminal justice system or the education system (under the name of restorative discipline, an approved intervention for educators in Louisiana), give everyone a voice including the community. Bringing together the people of the community who experienced the trauma of the Mother’s Day shootings would provide an opportunity for everyone to express their needs and for the community to make decisions about the best way to repair the harm. We support Ed Buckner’s call for a restorative process for the 7th Ward community.
Community Mediation Services promotes and provides mediation and restorative services throughout the greater New Orleans area. We work with the community to address the needs of everyone involved and help them move forward with constructive, healing approaches to rebuilding relationships and community.
The power of restorative practices is being recognized all over the world and is making significant headway in Louisiana, especially in education systems. It is gaining support, because it is working.
Lou Furman, executive director
Community Mediation Services