Courts and Criminal Justice

This article is based on my ideas about the Great Turning Movement. If you aren’t familiar with them, click here. It is linked to from my article Visions of a Regenerative Society. It describes how the courts and the criminal justice system might look in a transformed society.

When I watch a TV show that involves a courtroom drama, it almost always involves clever lawyers trying to win at all costs, even if they are defending someone that they know is probably guilty. This comes from our adversarial court system. The goal is to win rather than to find truth or justice. The new era will have a different court system, where lawyers and judges come together to seek the truth and find a just outcome, not to manipulate a jury.

In our current society, when someone is convicted of a crime, they are punished, usually by jail time in a situation that is terribly damaging and often results in their becoming more deeply involved in future crime. In the new society, the focus will be on rehabilitating criminals whenever possible. We will only keep someone jailed for an extended period of time to protect society when their rehabilitation doesn’t seem possible.

The new society will also have an emphasis on restorative justice, which is an approach that focuses on the needs of both victims and offenders, as well as involving the community. Victims take an active role in the process, and offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions, to repair the harm they’ve done—for example, by apologizing, returning stolen money, or engaging in community service.