Cool! Thanks for the listing.
I live in the area this article talks about. The parents of the children mentioned here are all out working two to three sup-par paying Mcjobs. Blaming the parents for "not taking responsibility" is an invalid argument. We are in an economic race to the bottom. Employment figures go up and so do the number of people on food stamps. That tells you that old jobs are being replaced by even worse jobs. So don't count on things getting better anytime soon.
Here's what the kids want. This is what they told the GRCC and Baptist ministers several years ago. The kids want safe spaces for respite open 24/7 so they don't have to be involved in chaotic situations outside of school and home. Disorganization at home often means absent parents out working all those sub-par jobs to keep the family going--a pressure imposed by society. Jobs pay less and what is left of the social safety net is under attack. Things will not get better and the young people will keep becoming vulnerable to gang activity. Don't blame the kids and their families. Look further.
These people, my neighbors, are under tremendous social and economic pressure. It's a powder keg. I found Shepard and Warren's responses shallow. But the reporting of the conversations may have ignored anything substantive either of these officials said.
It is a complex problem, says city council person Spaull. However, not throwing people out onto the street who have the ability to pay for their residences, or in the case of the Windom-Beys,and the lady on Appleton St. who paid for their homes in full, would be a good start. Begin by not making more people homeless with a moratorium on foreclosures. I don't want to believe that the council tacitly favors the duplicitous actions of the big banks, who start foreclosure actions on home owners while they are also re-negotiating mortgages with them? This foreclosure situation is as damaging to our community as Katrina was to New Orleans as far as displacing home owners. There was talk in NOLA of the hurricane having "cleaned house" in that city of lower income residents. The talk also was that quite a few people in NOLA government were fine with that. The city sitting on their hands and refusing to stop the hurricane of fraudulent foreclosure activity kind of is starting to have a similar vibe.
The experiment with youth and police as restorative justice counselors in British Commonwealth countries has not been without many difficulties. The conclusions reached by restorative practitioners after they evaluated the UK police program is that cultural competency was lacking in the police. In order for restorative principles to work with the police program, or any other community, there needs to be general agreement with participants what constitutes right and wrong or what is offensive within a particular community. The reviews by the restorative community of practitioners of this police restorative justice youth initiative are abundant and very available on the internet. It would be hoped that the Gandhi Institute, the RPD, Mr. Klofas, and Ms. Fein would have taken a look at the not very encouraging results of those evaluations.
It also needs to be said that the US is engaged in mass incarceration based largely on race (please see "The New Jim Crow," Alexander 2012) and, therefore, is in a state of wide-scale dysfunction. Because law enforcement and criminal justice systems feeding into this are so racially, ethnically, and culturally skewed against people of color, it seems an impossibility that those same police would be able to step outside of the current paradigm and act in a restorative manner. This is not my conclusion, but also that of the restorative community that evaluated this program in the UK.
I do think that there is a place for restorative principles to be used. The evidence suggests that restorative justice counselors/facilitators from the particular community involved, counselors with the same life experiences and cultural background, will be the best people to honor the worldview of those engaged in the restorative process. I'm not convinced that Mr. Barter universalizing the problems of the entire community are quite accurate. Mr. Barter, myself, and other educated and otherwise privileged people will not get the same response from the police and criminal justice system that most of the people in Rochester with less social capital would receive.
Because this type of program has already been done in Britain and other Commonwealth countries, and has been thoroughly reviewed, there is a great opportunity for Rochester to learn from the mistakes of these other police restorative justice initiatives and vastly improve it.
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