Tag Archives: retributive justice

Death Penalty: Might Does Not Make Right

Please remember that this paper is in TurnItIn so do not plagerize. This paper was for my Criminal Law 1 class and I got a 99 on the final paper. I used to be pro-death penalty; however, as I’ve evolved in my philosophy and have come to know morality as being universal, I can no longer support it. Also, I did not include economics in this paper because there are reports that sort of cancel each other out. In other words, people saying the death penalty is less expensive have reports to show that is the case; however, those that claim LWOP (Life WithOut Parole) also have reports that show their stance is the case. I couldn’t find proof enough to satisfy me.

Creative Commons License
Death Penalty: Might Does Not Make Right by Reagen Dandridge Desilets is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Death Penalty: Might Does Not Make Right

Reagen Dandridge Desilets

Trident Technical College

14SP_F2 CRJ115 Criminal Law I (W04)

April 6, 2014


The death penalty was brought to America by colonial settlers and continues more than 400 years later to this day. There are several studies that claim to justify the continued use of the death penalty; however, there is other research that explains how they do not hold up under scrutiny. In the interests of justice, we must follow through with due diligence to ensure that we are not allowing cruel and unusual punishments to be applied. This paper will explore some of the history and research into this topic and show why it needs careful reconsideration for abolishment.

Death Penalty: Might Does Not Make Right

The death penalty has been a tool used by authorities in an attempt to control the actions of people for centuries; the first codified death penalty laws go back to the Eighteenth Century B.C. in the Code of King Hammaurabi of Babylon (DPIC). In the United States of America, the death penalty was brought by European settlers. The first recorded execution occurred in Jamestown, Virginia in 1608 when Captain George Kendall was executed for being a Spanish spy (Winglfield). The types of crimes punishable by death were vast ranging from theological crimes such as denying the “true God”, to minor crimes like stealing grapes, killing a chicken or trading with natives, to major crimes such as murder (DPIC). Since we can see the absurdity of killing someone over religious beliefs or where the victim had little to no actual harm, it would be wise to continue to question the use of such an absolute form of punishment.

One of the prominent reasons stated for the continued use of the death penalty is that it is a deterrent (Mocan & Gittings, 2003). There have been some studies attempting to support such claims; however, there are others that question the methodologies used in those studies (Donohue & Wolfers, 2006) (Radelet & Lacock, 2009). If a study claims to prove that the death penalty is an effective deterrent, but uses incomplete or questionable methods, then their claims to empirical evidence are not truly empirical. With lives hanging in the balance, this is a vitally important distinction to make. Is their theory falsifiable and if it is, then they failed to prove their theory has any merit whatsoever (Booth, 2004). Donohue and Wolfers (2006) and Radelet and Lacock (2009) have done well to show the errors in several studies, thereby falsifying them. In fact, there are very few academics that support the death penalty as an acceptable form of punishment (Flanders, 2013).

Some claim that morality is upheld with the death penalty in place. Morality is frequently confused with social mores. Mores change from culture to culture and to say that mores are the same as morality denies that there is a universal morality (Gert, 2011). An example of social mores would be the prohibition of vices such as recreational marijuana use. While society frowns upon the recreational use of marijuana and may call those that do use it in such a fashion “immoral”, it is in fact not immoral as it does not cause harm to another person. There are five harms: “death, pain, disability, loss of freedom, and loss of pleasure” (Gert, 2004). So to call the death penalty moral is to say that the person administering it is not causing harm to another person. Compare that to someone smoking marijuana. The person getting high is not causing harm to anyone while the executioner most certainly is. The death penalty, therefore, is a social more, not a moral act. “The death penalty honors human dignity by treating the defendant as a free moral actor able to control his own destiny for good or for ill; it does not treat him as an animal with no moral sense” (Fein, 2001). This attempt to transfer the moral burden of killing a convicted offender to said offender falls short. Yes, there are indeed consequences to one’s actions; however, it does not relieve those initiating, cooperating, and conducting the executions of their responsibility of causing harm to another person.

There are a few people who claim that the death penalty is a form of self-defense. Self-defense, up to and including lethal force, is certainly an acceptable act when needed to protect oneself and other innocents from imminent harm (Gert, 2004). The idea equating the death penalty with self-defense was put forward by Gian Rinaldo Carli as a response to Cesare Beccaria’s 1764 treatise, On Crimes and Punishments (Maestro, 1980). Beccaria proposed a number of changes to the penal legal systems of the time including abolishing the death penalty. Carli rebutted saying that the victim, having been killed by the offender, would have killed the offender in the course of self-defense if they had the means to do so. The death of the offender is planned in advance and executed while the offender is unable to cause harm to anyone else involved, making the act not of self-defense but rather an immoral act of harm more akin to premeditated murder.

Legal definition is the only thing that defines the death penalty as something other than premeditated murder. The legal definition of murder can change from state to state but is usually something along the lines of the unlawful, intentional killing of a person with malice aforethought (Berman). Malice aforethought is the intent to harm or kill without justification, excuse, or mitigating circumstances. The key word we are looking at would be “unlawful”. The law allows for the intentional killing with malice aforethought in the instance of the death penalty. So the acceptance of a legal definition of murder is the only thing that society leans on to excuse the death penalty as an act different than murder. As such, the death penalty has become a social more and never was or could be a moral act. Legislating an immoral act doesn’t suddenly make it moral.

Another reason stated to support the death penalty is for justice. But is that really true? That depends on how someone defines justice. Dr. Budziszewski at the University of Texas at Austin claims, “Society is justly ordered when each person receives what is due to him” (2007). This is the model currently used in the United States of America and it is called the retributive model of justice (Krup, 1981). In retributive justice models, crime is breaking the law and not necessarily something that causes harm; offender accountability is about the offender accepting the infliction of harm and not the offender taking steps to repair the harm they have caused wherever possible; crime affects the government and the focus is taken from the victim and the people most closely affected by the criminal act; public safety is said to be attained by increasing laws and not by building community peace to maintain order (CRYJ). Retribution is based on revenge (The Ideology of the Death Penalty – Retribution and Revenge, 2005). Claims that retribution is a form of restitution, and not revenge, are not true as the state seeking retribution does nothing to help repair the harm to the victim and make them whole again (FindLaw). If efforts are focused on punishment instead of making the victim as whole again as possible and helping the offender to not reoffend, then there is no real justice. There isn’t any justice in revenge and it sets a bad example for citizens. It sends the message that revenge is okay; that revenge is sanctioned by the state and is to be trusted when done by the state. It attempts to cement the idea that the victim is made more whole by the state committing another premeditated murder in the name of the victim. It sends a confused message that justice and revenge are the same when they are not.

Why are revenge and justice not related? Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D. makes some good generalizations about the differences between justice and revenge (2014). The first of those are that revenge is emotional and justice is rational. Justice in its most logical and moral definition is not about “getting even”. It’s about righting a wrong. Second, revenge is personal while justice is impersonal and impartial. Justice is supposed to be blind and that cannot be achieved while someone is feeding a rage to get revenge. Next, revenge is vindictiveness while justice is vindication. Basically, it’s the old adage that two wrongs do not make a right. Revenge is also about cycles whereas justice is about closure. When someone wronged commits an act of revenge, then it’s possible the offender, now a victim, may also seek revenge. It’s a vicious cycle that turns over and over and, before anyone knows it, no one remembers how it all began. However, justice aims to get restitution, rehabilitation, resolution, and closure. This will end the cycle of violence that revenge would only perpetrate. Finally, revenge concerns retaliation and justice concerns restoring balance. Revenge tends to be disproportionate because of the emotion involved in such acts. Vigilantism is frequently fed by personal senses of what is right and wrong and can be fueled when multiplied by crowds of people, such as seen in riots and lynch mobs. However, such extremism on the part of revenge isn’t going to help and justice aims to “dispassionately” restore balance through equity. Restoration is about repairing harm with equal restitution, not restitution and then some. So the goal of the death penalty, revenge, is a dangerous path to tread that does not seek justice in the end, only more harm.

All of the above discussions do not even consider when an innocent person is executed by the state. It is hard to know how many innocent people have been executed as there usually isn’t a chance for exoneration after execution (DPIC, 2014). There have been, however, a total of 116 death row inmates exonerated from 1973 to 2004 (Dieter, 2004). This may point to the very likelihood of innocent people having been executed in the past, which is far from being just or moral. Even though there have been some exonerations now does not mean that there are no longer innocent people currently facing the death penalty. Nevertheless, death penalty proponents seem to accept this grave injustice as a part of the system. Judge Mark L. Wolf of the Federal District Court in Boston admitted to the fact that innocent people are executed but still refused to declare the death penalty unconstitutional (Liptak, 2003). Judge Michael Ponsor of the Federal District Court in Springfield once wrote, “(T)hat a legal regime relying on the death penalty will inevitably execute innocent people – not too often, one hopes, but undoubtedly sometimes. Mistakes will be made because it is simply not possible to do something this difficult perfectly, all the time. Any honest proponent of capital punishment must face this fact.” (2002) And yet, even when this frightening truth is acknowledged, people refuse to take a stance against it. Instead, the responsibility of killing innocent people is thrust into the hands of the system, which is fallible precisely because it is in the hands of human beings. The system cannot exist outside of human action as it is human action. Once this blame-shifting behavior is stopped, then people would have to be held accountable for the detention and death of innocent people. Support for the death penalty would have to stop so as to not continue to kill innocent people by mistake. This issue is something those that hold to the death penalty being moral and just cannot continue to hide behind.

After centuries of excusing the use of the death penalty through codified laws and social mores it is becoming less able to withstand the tests of effectiveness, justness, and morality. Other means need to be sought to find better ends, ends that will give everyone a real sense of achieving justice. The death penalty is not an effective deterrent; therefore, it serves the purpose of revenge instead of justice. The death penalty offers no restitution for the harms caused by the offender. The death penalty is an immoral act as it is the killing of someone that is not an imminent danger. The death penalty is also the ending of the life of some people that were truly innocent. It is time to evolve beyond the death penalty and adopt better ways of dealing with offenders and getting justice for victims and their families. Only then will people begin to heal and feel at peace.


Berman, S. J. (n.d.). Homicide: Murder and Manslaughter. Retrieved April 12, 2014, from Nolo: Law for All: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/homicide-murder-manslaughter-32637.html

Booth, J. (2004, Summer). Scientific Knowledge: Truth, Induction, and Falsification. Richmond Journal of Philosophy(7), 44-49.

Budziszewski, J. (2007, January 6). Captial Punishment: The Case for Justice. Retrieved April 8, 2014, from First Things: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/01/capital-punishment-the-case-for-justice

CRYJ. (n.d.). What is Restorative Justice. Retrieved April 8, 2014, from Center for Youth Justice: http://www.restorativeyouthjustice.org/restorativejustice

Dieter, R. C. (2004, September). A Death Penalty Information Center Report. Retrieved April 12, 2014, from DPIC: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/innocence-and-crisis-american-death-penalty

Donohue, J. J., & Wolfers, J. (2006, January). Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate. Stanford Law Review, 58, 791-846.

DPIC. (2014, March 12). Innocence and the Death Peanlty. Retrieved April 12, 2014, from Death Penalty Information Center: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/innocence-and-death-penalty

DPIC. (n.d.). Part I: History of the Death Penalty. Retrieved April 7, 2014, from Death Penalty Information Center: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/part-i-history-death-penalty#early

Fein, B. (2001, Summer). The Death Penalty, but Sparingly. Human Rights, 28(3), p. 18.

Flanders, C. (2013, Fall). The Case Against the Case Against the Death Penalty. New Criminal Law Revew: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal, 16(4), 595-620.

Gert, B. (2004). Common Morality : Deciding What to Do. New York: Oxford University Press.

Gert, B. (2011). The Definition of Morality. Retrieved April 8, 2014, from Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-definition/

Innocence Project. (n.d.). The Innocent and the Death Penalty. Retrieved April 12, 2014, from Innocence Project: http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/The_Innocent_and_the_Death_Penalty.php

Krup, S. D. (1981, December). A Retributive-Justice Model of Sentencing. Federal Probation, 45(4), 24-29.

Letsas, G. (2009). Rights and Duties on Pitcairn Island. In D. Oliver, Justice, Legality and the Rule of Law: Lessons from the Pitcairn Prosecutions. New York: Oxford University Press.

Liptak, A. (2003, August 12). Signs Grow of Innocent People Being Executed, Judge Says. Retrieved April 12, 2014, from New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/12/national/12DEAT.html

Maestro, M. (1980, Feb. 29). The Death Penalty Viewed as an Act of Self-Defense by Two Italian Jurists in the Eighteenth Century. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 124(1), 52-54.

Martinson. (1996). What Works? Questions and Answers about Prison Reform. In G. S. Bridges, J. G. Weis, & R. D. Crutchfield, Criminal Justice: Readings (pp. 113-123). Thousand Oaks, California: Pine Forge Press.

Mocan, H. N., & Gittings, R. K. (2003, October). Getting off Death Row: Commuted Sentences and the Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment. Journal of Law and Economics, 46(2), 453-478.

Ponsor, M. (2002, August 22). Measuring price of death penalty. Retrieved April 12, 2014, from UMass Amherst: http://people.umass.edu/leg485/ponsor.htm

Radelet, M. L., & Lacock, T. L. (2009, Spring). Recent Developments: Do Executions Lower Homicide Rates?: The Views of Leading Criminologists. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 99(2), 489-508.

Rothbard, M. N. (1963). War, Peace, and the State. Retrieved April 12, 2014, from Ludwig von Mises Institute: http://mises.org/rothbard/warpeace.asp

Seltzer, L. F. (2014, February 6). Don’t Confuse Revenge with Justice: 5 Key Differences. Retrieved April 12, 2014, from Psychology Today: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201402/don-t-confuse-revenge-justice-5-key-differences

Winglfield, E. M. (n.d.). First Hand Accounts of Virginia, 1575-1705: A Discourse of Virginia. Retrieved April 7, 2014, from University of Virginia Library: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/jamestown-browse?id=J1023

* Feature image in header from http://rt.com/files/news/20/b8/10/00/death-row-inmates-drug-cocktail.jpg


“On Death Row”

I’m currently watching On Death Row on Netflix and find it to be pretty compelling so far.

Werner Herzog On Death Row
Werner Herzog – filmmaker and narrator of “On Death Row”

I’m hoping to do a paper on capital punishment but to sum it up, I’m against it. There are many reasons why including it’s existence for retribution (as it is not an effective deterrent), innocent people being on death row, and the fact that, as a Christian, I cannot accept the Old Testament declaration of “eye for an eye” at a human level. God wants revenge, fine. He can have it. As humans capable of mistakes, I don’t find it’s within my power to declare who should live and who should not. There are other issues and I will cover them later. Take a moment to watch On Death Row and see if it challenges what you know of the death penalty in the United States.

The Application of Peacemaking Criminology

The following research paper was for my Criminology class. We had to choose from the various types of criminology and assess it and report on it. I have a big interest in peacemaking criminology, which includes transformative and restorative justice, because the retributive model of criminal justice is a failure. It rips apart families and communities especially with vice laws.

 Creative Commons License
The Application of Peacemaking Criminology by Reagen Dandridge Desilets is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The Application of Peacemaking Criminology

Reagen Dandridge Desilets

Trident Technical College

13FA CRJ125 Criminology (W01)

November 11, 2013


Within social conflict theories lies the realm of peacemaking criminology. Peacemaking criminology seeks to end crime through transformative and restorative justice methods to help people become more “whole” again. It focuses on healing families currently touched by crime in an effort to break a cycle that repeats itself the way things currently operate. By looking at research already available as well as current programs running with the same or similar goals, one can determine its effective and worthiness of investment of time and funds.

 The Application of Peacemaking Criminology

There is a set of theories in criminology that promote ideas such as restorative justice instead of retributive justice. In the face of the failures of retributive justice, such as the high incarceration and recidivism rates (Hartney, 2006) (Langan & Levin, 2002), it is time to try something else and peacemaking theories provide a radically different path to justice. There are efforts in place for the application of transformative and restorative justice already underway. Some of these include Philly Stands Up, a collective working with sex crime offenders and victims for healing and transformation (Philly Stands Up, 2010); Critical Resistance, a movement challenging the belief that “caging and controlling people makes us safe” (Critical Resistance, 2013); and 360 Degrees, a team dedicated to changing public perception of the nation’s prisoners in the hopes of being able to help analyze what works and what doesn’t (360 Degrees, 2011). Other countries have delved into this as well including Cuba (Political Research Associates, 2005) with a focus on intense offender rehabilitation and community integration and New Zealand (Schmid, 2001) with a focus on restoration for both victim and offender. Focuses in restorative and transformative justice could include things such as family conferencing, family violence court, mental health court, drug assessment and aid panels, and victim offender reconciliation programs (Barnes).

Having roots in ancient Arab, Greek, and Roman civilizations (Braithwaite, 1999) restorative justice can encompass many things ranging from victim services to help them heal, up through offender integrative programs such as community service instead of prison for an offense (Kurki, 2000). The phrase is commonly used interchangeably with community justice since the focus of restitution is primarily on community service and offender integration. The monopoly that various levels of government have on the prison industrial complex is let go of with restorative justice in favor of locals handling services and restitution to victims, keeping the needs of those most closely affected by the offense on the top of the list of what is important. Healing for all involved is the focus of restorative justice instead of revenge, such as with the current retributive justice model. Restorative justice focuses on the shared values of a community for healing justice while retributive justice concerns itself with power and status in the imposition of punishments of offenders (Wenzel, Okimoto, & Feather, 2008).

It was stated early on in this nation’s history that local forms of government should be concerned with local matters and that centralizing power can be a dangerous path to take (Jefferson, 2011). This includes everything from federal, to state, to county, to city levels, down to the individual person and their farm. Perhaps leaving the people in the smaller community in charge more so than federal, state, and county level courts and detention centers would help improve the increasingly difficult situation in regards to incarceration in the United States. Each community has very specific needs and desires in regards to every aspect of their lives. What would work in Los Angeles may not work for Knoxville and what works in Honolulu may not work in Anchorage. That can be further subdivided into individual neighborhoods as well. What works for an inner city type of neighborhood may not be able to work with solutions utilized in a middle class or upper class section of the same city. The idea is that the people truly control the criminal justice system and can customize it to better meet their needs as much as the victim’s needs and the offender’s needs.

Most people would not have a difficult time understanding and wanting to meet the needs of a victim. Recently, the victim has begun to become a better focus in criminal justice whereas before, they were more or less just treated as a source of evidence (Henderson, 1985). Many jurisdictions have set up their own victim advocacy programs to help assist victims, such as the South Carolina State Office of Victim Assistance, also known as SOVA (SOVA).  They offer programs that help victims do anything from counseling, to tending to monetary needs as a result of crime, to updates on offender activities (such as when being released from prison) and more. They also have outreach programs to the general public to bring about awareness about victim advocacy and what it brings to those in need of help. There are numerous other jurisdictions that have begun victim-centered restitution ideas with a good deal of success. The more those in the criminal justice system, such as police, prosecutors and judges, learn of the losses victims suffer, the more they can help them find the resources to heal and experience a real sense of justice in their lives (Ruback & Shaffer, 2005). It is a fairly new concept in the story of the American justice system, but one that most people support without a second thought. Previously, while the offender was afforded every right under the Constitution, victims rarely had help and their treatment was more “cold” rather than “professional” as viewed by a victim (Henderson, 1985). Some victims, especially rape victims, may have even suffered injustice during the retributive justice process (Feild, 1979). The appearance and presentation of both offender and victim may influence the jurors and serve to sway them, whether they realize it or not, to vote in favor of whomever they personally like as opposed to depending on the evidence alone. There may still be issues in regards to victims getting the help they need (Henderson, 1985), but it is evolving and growing, especially with the emergence of restorative justice.

More difficult, however, may be spreading a message that offenders have needs not being met as well. As previously mentioned, offenders are offered a lot to help in their defense and always at the taxpayer’s expense (Henderson, 1985), including the victim’s. They get an attorney, even when they cannot afford one, and then are housed during trial and after sentencing to a jail or prison. They are given food and other basic necessities including health care, where some people outside of prison, including victims, may not have access to such resources. It is not hard to understand how a victim may feel re-traumatized by the entire process and how the public at large may view offenders as already getting what they need. What more could be done for an offender and how would it affect the victim as well as the community at large? Methods to keep ties to the community would go a long way to keeping an offender from falling into further, and likely increasingly violent, crime as a result of time in prison. For example, a father being able to stay in constant contact with his family outside of prison would go a long way to keeping those bonds tight and give him a reason to work towards community integration and stay away from crime (Political Research Associates, 2005). Working outside of a prison would give the offender a learned job skill and would help to increase his chances of successfully keeping that job when his time is served. Restorative measures would have, under a consensual arrangement, the offender and victim work together for victim restitution which may increase the offender’s awareness and empathy (Schmid, 2001). Offenders are treated as equal human beings with needs just as much as the victims and society at large and their needs.

An example of how a community can better affect offender outcome is that it is not hard to see that there is a large disparity in minority representation in prison versus outside populations (Hartney, 2006). Being able to focus on the needs of each community, which may have larger minority populations may help bring a reduction in harm in the community (Jenkins, 2006). It has been shown that different neighborhoods can have different struggles that can greatly affect crime levels (Peterson & Krivo, 2009). There are a number of high minority populated communities that suffer from a number of social and economic disadvantages and trying to overcome those conditions tends to lead to criminal activity. So, for example, someone trying to obtain money to better their position in life and provide for their families can easily turn to the black market activities of drug and gun trade to do that quickly and efficiently. Robbery and burglary are other methods of quickly attaining money. Motive for that can range from a drug addiction needing to be fed to rent needing to be paid. With restorative justice, there is a far better chance of the offender being able to, not only make restitution to the victim, but to better their situation in life and integrate back into the community. Offers for counseling, drug rehabilitation, learning job skills and more can be offered to an offender to better themselves and contribute to the community.

Empowerment and transformation are powerful motivators for success, particularly for those that feel disenfranchised or oppressed. In Afghanistan, there was launched a program to stimulate “transformative learning” in the rural communities. It focused on building up the nation’s infrastructure (Affolter, Richter, Daudzai, Massood, & Rahimi, 2009). It proved that the methods used, which included transformative learning as well as “mind-change”, a process of getting people to rethink customary thought processes regarding an issue of importance and thinking in new ways, helped to give the people a sense of pride and project ownership. This pushed them to become more proactive in dealing with local development problems. This is a great example of how restorative justice models can work and motivate people to improve, not just their own lives, but the lives of those around them in their community.

To further look at peacemaking criminology as a whole, John Fuller listed a “Peacemaking Pyramid Paradigm” that shows the overall philosophy in peacemaking criminology (Barnes). They include the following:

  1. Nonviolence – For example, peacemaking criminology is opposed to the death penalty. It cites that the premeditated violence (murder) of the offender is just as wrong as the offender’s violence.
  2. Social justice – Social justice would be able to tackle issues such as racism, sexism, and inequalities in the community.
  3. Inclusion – There is more at stake in justice than just the offender versus the state. The victim and their families as well as the offender and their families have a stake in what happens. There may be others in the communities that are willing to step in and offer alternatives. The state handling the justice paradigm robs these people of the chance to find a unique and creative solution to the problems at hand. Inclusion offers longer lasting solutions than just sending someone off to prison.
  4. Correct means – “The ends don’t justify the means.” This is very true and something that is of particular interest to peacemaking criminology. Settling cases may leave someone feeling victimized in one way or another. A victim may feel a lack of justice when an offender pleas out and an offender that is innocent and fearing a lengthy prison sentence may also plea out to get less time to serve. These are not acceptable means (force) to get to an end (clearance rates).
  5. Ascertainable criteria – This issue surrounds language barriers in the justice system. This includes immigrants that are not familiar with the English language as well as legal jargon heard in the court room. There must be an understanding of the procedures and the terms being used. One cannot effectively participate in anything if they do not understand what is going on. This method seeks to fully inform all parties involved of what is happening.
  6. Categorical imperative – This is based on Kant’s concept of the categorical imperative. People know what will happen and can guess the outcome. This would be “an underlying philosophy of nonviolence and social justice throughout the criminal justice system.” Everyone involved including offenders, victims, and the public would be treated with the “respect and dignity we all deserve.” Peacemaking criminology “aims at providing true equality under the law that is tempered by appositive view of humankind.” It does not treat society higher than victim and victim higher than offender. We are all the same and are in this together.

Perhaps the answer to the problems that ail the American criminal justice system are rooted in the communities and the people that are most affected by crime. Not the judges, not the police departments, not the prison administrators. Perhaps looking inward is the best way to move forward. This can work to not only improve the lives of the victims and offenders of crime but also heal the communities in which these people live. Bridges can be built by one person reaching out to another. The more the people in these communities learn to transform and experience a “mind-change”, the more proactive and involved they can become. This will help to keep several categories of people out of America’s jails and prisons and keep them at home with their families who need them. Their bonds with family and community can be maintained and their life skills can be changed. In the meantime, the victim-centered process of restitution can also take place where people see each other’s faces on a day-to-day basis, keeping accountability at the forefront of restitution and resolution enforcement.

Considering the ancient roots of restorative justice (Braithwaite, 1999), and considering the failures of the retributive model, such as lack of victim care and offender rehabilitation, then it is not a stretch to see that peacemaking theories in criminology are a viable and even necessary step to take moving into the future. Our prison numbers need to shrink and our communities need to heal. We can do this without suffering the oppressive costs of prison operation and upkeep. It is possible that there will always be a place for prisons for those that refuse to collaborate with their communities, but until we get nonviolent offenders and rehabilitative offenders out of prisons, and until victims have a real sense of restitution, families across America will continue to be break and never heal. The cycle repeats.


360 Degrees. (2011). Retrieved October 27, 2013, from 360 Degrees: http://www.360degrees.org/

Affolter, F. W., Richter, K., Daudzai, A. K., Massood, T., & Rahimi, N. S. (2009, May). Transformative Learning and Mind-Change in Rural Afghanistan. Development in Practice, 19(3), 311-328. Retrieved October 30, 2013, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27752060

Barnes, R. C. (n.d.). Peacemaking Criminology: Challenges and Possibilities. Retrieved November 11, 2013, from National Social Science Association: http://www.nssa.us/journals/2007-29-1/2007-29-1-05.htm

Braithwaite, J. (1999). Restorative Justice: Assessing Optimistic and Pessimistic Accounts. Crime and Justice, 25, 1-127. Retrieved October 30, 2013, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1147608

Critical Resistance. (2013). Retrieved October 27, 2013, from Critical Resistance: http://criticalresistance.org/

Feild, H. S. (1979). Rape Trials and Jurors’ Decisions: A Psycholegal Analysis of the Effects of Victim, Defendant, and Case Characteristics. Law and Human Behavior, 3(4), 261-284. Retrieved October 30, 2013, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1393690

Hartney, C. (2006, Nov.). US Rates of Incarceration: A Global Perspective. Retrieved from National Council on Crime & Delinquency: http://www.nccdglobal.org/sites/default/files/publication_pdf/factsheet-us-incarceration.pdf

Henderson, L. N. (1985, Apr.). The Wrongs of Victim’s Rights. Stanford Law Review, 37(4), 934-1021. Retrieved October 30, 2013, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1228587

Jefferson, T. (2011, March 20). Thomas Jefferson, On Good and Safe Government, to Joseph Cabell, Feb. 2 1816. Retrieved October 30, 2013, from The Federalist Papers: http://www.thefederalistpapers.org/founders/jefferson/thomas-jefferson-on-good-and-safe-government-to-joseph-cabell-feb-2-1816

Jenkins, M. (2006, Nov.). Gullah Island Dispute Resolution: An Example of Afrocentric Restorative Justice. Journal of Black Studies, 37(2), 299-319. Retrieved October 30, 2013, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40034415

Kurki, L. (2000). Restorative and Community Justice in the United States. Crime and Justice, 27, 235-303. Retrieved October 27, 2013, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1147665

Langan, P. A., & Levin, D. J. (2002, June). Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994. Retrieved from Bureau of Justice Statistics: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/rpr94.pdf

Peterson, R. D., & Krivo, L. J. (2009, May). Segregated Spatial Locations, Race-Ethnic Composition, and Neighborhood Violent Crime. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 623. Race, Crime, and Justice: Contexts and Complexities, 93-107. Retrieved October 30, 2013, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40375889

Philly Stands Up. (2010). Retrieved October 27, 2013, from Philly Stands Up: http://www.phillystandsup.com/

Political Research Associates. (2005, May). The United States versus the World. Retrieved from PublicEye.org: http://www.publiceye.org/defendingjustice/pdfs/factsheets/9-Fact%20Sheet%20-%20US%20vs%20World.pdf

Ruback, R. B., & Shaffer, J. N. (2005, Dec.). The Role of Victim-Related Factors in Victim Restitution: A Multi-Method Analysis of Restitution in Pennsylvania. Law and Human Behavior, 29(6), 657-681. Retrieved October 30, 2013, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4499449

Schmid, D. J. (2001, August). Restorative Justice in New Zealand: A Model For U.S. Criminal Justice. Retrieved from Fulbright New Zealand: http://www.fulbright.org.nz/publications/2001-schmid/

SOVA. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2013, from State Office of Victim Assistance: http://www.sova.sc.gov/

Wenzel, M., Okimoto, T. G., & Feather, N. T. (2008, Oct.). Retributive and Restorative Justice. Law and Human Behavior, 32(5), 375-389. Retrieved October 30, 2013, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25144639

Texas man who lost wife and daughter to rich kid drunk driver fuming over sentence | The Raw Story

Texas man who lost wife and daughter to rich kid drunk driver fuming over sentence | The Raw Story.

This is a situation where justice is very hard to define since there were lives lost. Transformative justice would likely be the best option; however, since the victims and surviving families of those that died have no part in this process, they have been left out and are feeling incomplete. They do not feel that justice has been served and have no way of knowing via first hand interactions if this kid has truly been rehabbed and has learned empathy over entitlement. That being said, there is seriously now a mental condition for being an entitled brat? “Affluenza”? That’s… just… okay, whatever. Sounds more like a strain of influenza but that’s just me I guess.

I pray these families can find peace and hope that the teen will truly be rehabbed and learn the value of all life.

via Texas man who lost wife and daughter to rich kid drunk driver fuming over sentence | The Raw Story.

George Stinney, Black Teen Executed In 1944, May Get New Trial

I truly have no words…

George Stinney, Black Teen Executed In 1944, May Get New Trial

via George Stinney, Black Teen Executed In 1944, May Get New Trial.

Okay after a conversation on Facebook, I do have some words. What bothers me is that a young teen was executed with no evidence aside from a supposed confession that very well may have been coerced. Considering that there may be new evidence in the case to acquit him (and aside from the fact there was not any evidence used to convict him anyway), a new trial is in order. If had been wrongfully accused and tried with nothing more than a confession that was not recorded or witnessed and there was a chance to clear my name, even after my execution, then yes, I’d want it done.

Attorney: Glen Burnie shooting was self-defense – CapitalGazette.com: For The Record

Attorney: Glen Burnie shooting was self-defense – CapitalGazette.com: For The Record.

Self defense… clearly… Looks like he was dealing with a stalker that was escalating and resorted to violence. If \”Call 911\” is your only lame excuse for charging this man with murder then you will loose this case. Even if he did call 911 right away the stalker broke into the house shortly after the confrontation started which means police would not have been able to get there prior to the man shooting the stalker in self defense and defense of his home and everyone in it.

via Attorney: Glen Burnie shooting was self-defense – CapitalGazette.com: For The Record.