FOREWORD

It's time to get tough on crime! How often do we hear that refrain from our political leaders? A colleague of mine had an interesting way of challenging this view. “If we choose to live by an ‘eye for an eye’ and a ‘tooth for a tooth’ philosophy, we'll soon have a whole bunch of one-eyed toothless people walking around!” he said.

Although this is an overstatement to many, a person need not look far to see many graphics effects of the way we “do” justice. The United States now imprisons more adults than any other industrialized country. Driven by a view that punishing offenders will deter crime and make communities safer, governments and justice officials continue to support expansion of one key industry — prisons — sending more and more men and women to jail, and for longer periods. Yet, despite the lack of any credible evidence to show that this punitive view of justice is providing safer communities and reducing crime, our justice system marches on, based on an assumption that we simply need more and more of the punishing same.

But how is this justice system serving us? Are jails rehabilitating and healing offenders? Are victims being heard, compensated and helped? Do local community members feel any sense of involvement and empowerment in the

-1-

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