State Attorney Jack Campbell says a focus on restorative justice may be one way to empower victims of crime. Campbell says restorative justice focuses on helping those who’ve committed crimes face the consequences of their actions—often by meeting and speaking with their targets. And he adds the process can also be therapeutic for victims.
“I think restorative justice is another way to make sure we both empower somebody who has been victimized due to no fault of their own and hopefully we can get better responses and reduce recidivism by requiring the offender to see what they’ve done and to face who they’ve hurt,” Campbell says.
Campbell says in Leon County most of the restorative justice programs are focused on teens. But he says they’ve proven successful at keeping young people who’ve had trouble with the law from becoming repeat offenders. Jeremiah Murphy teaches physics at Florida State University. He also works with Community Connections.
“If you just do nothing but incarcerate kids, 70% to 80% of them go back to jail. As a professor that’s a failing grade. So there’s got to be a better way to do this," Murphy says. "The specific number from Community Connections on their recidivism rate is 12%. That’s an A. So that’s going from a process that doesn’t work, to a process that works remarkably well.”
Community Connections operates through the Palmer Munroe Teen Center in Tallahassee. It uses restorative justice principles to teach youth who are referred through school or the criminal justice system skills such as nonviolent communication.
Murphy and Campbell made their comments on WFSU’s public affairs show Perspectives.