More Scary Tales Of The Great Stupid: New York’s “Restorative Justice”

Indeed, Major Clifton. You can’t get much crazier (or stupid) than this.

As I have related here before, in my fortuitous accidental opportunity to chat privately with genius Herman Kahn many years ago, he observed that societies periodically suffer mass amnesia and forget why traditions, rules and policies that had existed for centuries exist. They then try something new that seems like a good idea at the time, only to be reminded it is, in fact, a terrible idea, and one that everyone once knew was a terrible idea, which is why it had been wisely dismissed centuries or even eons ago. This cycle is needlessly destructive, and those who trigger it are incompetent and irresponsible, usually choosing to adopt magical thinking over cold, hard reality because it supports their ideology. For some reason, or because of a cosmic practical joke, the United States is being tortured by such misbegotten inspirations. “Hey! Let’s just let anyone into the country who wants to come!” “Let’s defund the police!” “Let’s give up on stopping people from getting addicted to drugs!” “Let’s wear masks over the lower parts of our faces all the time, just to be safe! And make our kids do it too!” “Hey, why not spend as much money as we want even when we’re already deep in debt?” (I had to stop myself mid-list because the examples popping into my head were obviously going to keep coming.)

New York City has embraced one of the more ridiculous of the ideas arising out of magical thinking, societal amnesia and The Great Stupid: “restorative justice.” Part of an ambitious reform package created by former NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio (“Hey! Let’s take advice from one of New York City’s most disastrous failures ever!”), restorative justice is, like so many recent terrible ideas, a response to the uncomfortable results of cultural pathologies in the black community. In 2019, De Blasio announced the criminal justice revolution, which was, he explained, necessary because ““For far too long, this city’s answer to every societal problem was to throw people in jail. We lost generations to mass incarceration, mostly young men of color.” Yes, it was “disparate impact” again! Punishing criminals and enforcing laws had a disparate impact on black Americans, because they are still committing a disproportional number of serious and violent crimes. Solution: Stop punishing criminals and enforcing laws!

$391 million was invested in the brilliant new approach to address “root causes” of incarceration by funding mental health services, housing and rehabilitation, along with a program optimistically named “Community Based Violence Reduction”. But most revolutionary of all was the institution of “restorative justice” in “serious felony level cases that would otherwise result in detention and incarceration.” Restorative justice, or “RJ” to its friends, is a non-punitive response to criminal conduct. The criminal (or the “responsible person,” in RJ-speak) and the victim, often in the presence of community representatives, meet and talk things out often with a big hug. The perp accepts responsibility for the harm inflicted and the two reach an agreement on how the victim can be compensated for the harm done.

Why didn’t we think of this before?

RJ is now employed in New York (and elsewhere) as the remedy for many crimes, among them domestic violence, childhood sexual abuse, sex trafficking, and even rape once it has been bargained down to a lesser offense. The process is that the individual whom the unenlightened would call “the offender” and the victim meet face-to-face. The victim must not blame or judge the “responsible person.” but rather describe the impact of the offense when in order to “heal” and become “empowered.” RJ sees victim and perpetrator as equal (this avoids that nasty racism implication when multiple skin shades are involved), with both in need of support and understanding. This is supposedly modeled on the conflict resolution practices of indigenous cultures. Healing circles are held for the responsible person, with a resolution “circle” later on. The “responsible person” may be required to make an apology or perhaps financial compensation. There may be a confidentiality agreement between the parties.

Does restorative justice work? Of course not! There is no reliable data that shows otherwise, but BLM activists claim that feminists calling for prison for rape and domestic abuse are racist, because black men are “over-represented” in the prison population. (My position: if black men are over-raping compared to their percentage in the general population, then they are not over-represented in the prison population.)

“To be taken out of the criminal justice system and put in a situation where everybody is required to empathize with him — including his victim, who is forbidden from blaming or shaming him — is a violent man’s dream come true,” writes Julie Bindel in her analysis of New York City’s kinder, gentler approach to rape. She spoke to rape counselors and victim advocates who were afraid to be quoted by name because “there is so much intolerance on the Left that even those of us who are part of the Left fear retaliation” if they don’t accept the RJ Way. Bindel concludes,

The idea that serious, sexual and violent crimes should be dealt with by “community leaders”, outside the criminal justice system, is shockingly naïve at best. At worst, it is re-victimizing women, and giving perpetrators a free pass. Liberal cities like New York are conducting an experiment with women’s safety and lives — and ignoring whatever they have to say about it.

Yes, and the “experiment” will yield the predictable results: we were doing it right all along, until ideologues decided we weren’t. Negative reinforcement is how society minimizes crimes. People who commit violent and destructive acts need to be kept away from law-abiding society to a significant extent regardless of what color they are. Laws that have no penalties when they are violated will be ignored. We knew this once.

And we will know it again, after innocent people have been needlessly harmed in pursuit of “restorative justice.”

16 thoughts on “More Scary Tales Of The Great Stupid: New York’s “Restorative Justice”

  1. When a rape victim gets a weapon, stalks her rapist and then guns him down by blowing off his weapon of assault, will the RJ way be an avenue for her?
    Asking for a friend.

  2. I know I’ve posted this here before in response to Jack’s observation that people keep forgetting the basic rules of human behavior and the universe. Mr. Kipling, on target:

    “As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
    There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
    That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
    And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

    And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
    When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
    As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
    The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!”

    • 77Z,
      Dare I surmise you spent four lovely years in Colorado Springs being taught English Lit & Poetry by a superb teacher? It is a most excellent use of the Kipling poem final stanzas in this context!
      We have been just south of the Zoo for 22 years, having retired in ’93, courtesy of an Engineering Degree from RPI and a blue suit. I’m thrilled to learn that Zoomies retain so much of their Liberal Arts education; RPI can’t really make that claim.

      • MB, you are correct, sir, and I am now residing just outside the former boundary of Lowry AFB in Denver. Zoomies seem to be drawn back to, or close to, the site of their former discomfiture. And I was fortunate to have a father who loved Kipling; he read RK to his children and then had his efforts reinforced at our alma mater.

  3. I remember when I was first ordered to attend a training session on Restorative Justice. I went in feeling extremely cynical, but the presenter really sold it well. She explained the basic principles of RJ as being about making the relationship between the victim and the offender part of the process of rehabilitation, so that the offender is forced to understand the real impact of what they have done and the victim can see the offender as a person, helping them get over the fear and pain they have suffered by letting them confront the person who has harmed them. The program emphasized how victims want the one who hurt them to make things right (to the extent that’s possible), to be sorry that they hurt them, and to stop doing harm. Frankly, it seemed like the RJ people had some good ideas.

    All that seems to have gone by the wayside. Instead of a way to incorporate victims into the system so that they are empowered, RJ has turned into just another racket. It’s disgusting.

  4. Restorative justice and alternative dispute resolution have been discussed and experimented with since the 1970s, and never gained much traction with actual criminal justice practitioners because WE KNEW IT WOULDN’T WORK. Instead of endeavoring to apply it in the (very) few cases where it MIGHT have been appropriate and workable (minor property offenses committed by juveniles, for example), advocates seemingly always attempted to implement it on a wide scale, with predictably dismal results. It is insane to expect success from these methods when dealing with career criminals and violent felons.

    • Just remember that these same people are the ones who will be enforcing the gun control laws that they want.

      Their desire to punish gun owners for crimes committed by their guns which were stolen by criminals comes from animus against crime victims and support of violent thuggery.

  5. The mind fucking boggles. Victims of rape are supposed to forgive their rapists. Got it. A rapist’s dream come true.

  6. First and foremost, we need to remember that this is being pushed by the same side that wants “common sense”, “sensible” gun legislation.

    They claim they want new gun control laws to protect us from the street thug and the gangbanger; it is clear they have no desire to punish the street thug and the gangbanger.

    I read about proposals (including in comments from Jack’s Facebook friends) to hold gun owners responsible for crimes committed with their guns if they are stolen.

    There is this mentality of punishing the victim while absolving the perpetrator. If you wonder why there was much more outrage against Kyle Rittenhouse than the McMichaels. Their outrage is not because they disbeliever that Rittenhouse defended himself from violent thugs, but because they believe he did, and to them that was his mortal sin.

    They love violent thuggery, pure and simple.

  7. The epitome of 1984 was believing two contradictory things simultaneously.

    “Times up! Believe all women!” and “Let’s sort this misunderstanding out privately!” at the same time!

  8. This is an interesting situation. I admit the idea of having wrongdoers reconcile with those they wronged sounds nice on paper. I had to think for a minute before I came up with the relevant criteria for when this would be appropriate.

    It’s appropriate for a wrongdoer to reconcile with those they wronged when the crime they committed is minor enough that they are expected to continue being part of the community and interacting with the people they wronged. Barfights, vandalism, petty theft… any lesser sort of turmoil that a person might spend a night in a county jail for and then go back to their lives would qualify. The victims might have some grudges against them, but not so much that they’d want them out of the community or refuse to talk with them.

    Then there are crimes where the victim really shouldn’t have to interact with the perpetrator ever again. Maybe they didn’t even know each other in the first place. The perpetrator doesn’t have to learn anything their actual victim in order to learn ethics or basic empathy. There are plenty of victim stories for them to learn about if it helps them become better people. They’re not owed forgiveness or a personal connection.

    If the victim’s interested in reconciliation, great. That’s not going to be part of the standard justice process for most crimes, though.

    • Thanks EC.

      Please correct me, though, if I’m mistaken: wasn’t reconciliation with the victim of a crime often part of a Judge’s sentencing, and then only if the victim let the prosecuting attorney know in advance that the victim was open to doing so?


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