Authentic Community Justice: The Role of Voice

Eric Gross, Northern Arizona University

Research on punishment has pervasively shown that punishment possesses neither a moral or deterrent effect for offenders. However, the process of punishment can be understood as merely a subset of a larger process of personal and group invalidation that commences well before entry in the criminal justice system. The "War on Crime" and the "War on Drugs" can be understood as the "War on the Poor." From the point of view of many indigenous justice processes, the incidence of chaos, disorder, and deviance can be understood as providing the opportunity for healing. Justice processes can therefore provide validation to individuals who have known invalidation throughout their lives. Like many policing initiatives throughout the United States, justice can serve the purpose of problem solving. A problem solving approach may be used with crime and family disorder where all effected individuals are encouraged to voice their perceptions about a given situation. The ability to tell one's story and having voice accorded relevance and importance to both the justice process and outcome is critical to the Satisfaction Model of justice.

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Updated 05/20/2006