Just Mercy

Just Mercy, where the attorney talks about the power of getting to know his clients lives in their fullness, instead of merely treating them as cases shuffling in and out of his inbox.

An interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates, where amongst other things, he talks about keeping a "neighbor mindset" when it comes to issues arising where you live, rather than treating everyone else as strangers to be dealt with by law enforcement. About the possibility of having community elders, familiar and trusted, step in to defuse a situation, rather than escalating to the police, which has the potential of inciting much more violence.

Helena Norberg-Hodge recounts her surprise in Ancient Futures ancient-futures when she realises that the informal, community justice arrangement in the Ladakhi village she was staying with works well. Despite Western pre-conceptions of justice having to be blind, impartial, meted out by some objective third-party judge, the mediations sought out by the villagers from their elected chief proves to be fair and accepted by all, precisely because the community is close-knit and people know one another well.

Incarceration rates are growing out of hand in many developed countries, the US being the #1 offender. But instead of helping bring justice to the victims of crime, or healing a community hurt by crime, the court system alienates the victims, claiming monopoly over the right to punish. Prison serves as a cash cow for prison operators, and drives people to enter a cycle of recidivism because of that brand of prison-bird that stays with them for life. "Prison and its alternatives" prison-alternatives talks about other paths to rehabilitation and community justice. e.g. the circle (traditional to some Native American tribes) in which everyone in the community impacted by the crime: perpetrators, victims, neighbours, friends and family come together to talk through the situation in a non-hierarchical setting such that everyone's voice is heard. Also notes that such counselling may not be appropriate for all communities or situations, especially in cases where there is a powerful faction that's able to overrule and silence others (e.g. in domestic violence cases, where the community elders may side with the male perpetrator because Tradition).


ancient-futures Norberg-Hodge, Helena. 2016. Ancient Futures. Local Futures. ↩︎ 1

prison-alternatives Cayley, David. 1996. “Prison and Its Alternatives”. Podcast. Ideas. Canada: CBC Radio. [link] ↩︎ 1