Breaking Free of the Prison Paradigm: Integrating Restorative Justice Techniques into Chicago's Juvenile Justice System

By Tsui, Judy C. | Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Summer 2014 | Go to article overview

Breaking Free of the Prison Paradigm: Integrating Restorative Justice Techniques into Chicago's Juvenile Justice System


Tsui, Judy C., Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology


TABLE OF CONTENTS  INTRODUCTION I. WHAT IS RESTORATIVE JUSTICE? II. RESTORATIVE JUSTICE AS AN EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVE TO        INCARCERATION        A. Restored Offenders Are Less Likely to Recidivate        B. Restorative Programming May Be More Cost-Efficient        C. Juveniles Are More Likely to Be Restored        D. Includes Otherwise Absent Victim Input III. THE HISTORY AND CURRENT STRUCTURE OF THE JUVENILE        JUSTICE SYSTEM IN CHICAGO IV. POSSIBLE BARRIERS IN FURTHER IMPLEMENTING RESTORATIVE        JUSTICE TECHNIQUES        A. Lack of Community Cohesion        B. Perception of Restorative Justice as "Soft"        C. Pressure on Policymakers to be Tough on Crime        D. Chicago's Lack of Knowledge and Exposure to Restorative           Justice        E. Shortage of Resources V. POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS CONCLUSION 

INTRODUCTION

In June of 1991, eighteen-year-old college freshman Carin Streufert was visiting her hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, for her summer vacation. (1) After a trip to a local pancake house with friends, Streufert departed on foot at approximately 2:45 a.m. to walk home alone. (2) Sometime in the course of her travels, Streufert was abducted, raped, and murdered, (3) leaving behind her grief-stricken parents, Don and Mary Streufert. (4)

Although Carin Streufert's killers were eventually convicted and sentenced to life in prison for their brutal crime, her parents felt compelled to search beyond the traditional models of punishment to facilitate their own healing. (5) Rather than settling for retribution, the Streuferts focused on forgiveness and turned toward restorative justice practices and principles as a means toward that end. (6) The Streuferts founded an organization to address and reduce violence, began holding forgiveness workshops with other victims of crime, and even visited their daughter's murderers in prison. (7) Through this process, the family found a way to prevent anger from controlling their future, despite knowing that forgiveness could never change their past. (8)

The Streuferts say they have forgiven their daughter's killers, but they still believe that the two men responsible for their daughter's death should remain in prison. (9) In similar cases involving extremely violent crimes, society may lean toward incarceration as a means to incapacitate the offenders and prevent future offenses. (10) Despite this apparent need to imprison the most violent or chronic offenders, detention centers and correctional facilities have questionable appropriateness and effectiveness within the juvenile justice system. (11)

While restorative justice operated in the Streuferts' case primarily as a healing mechanism for the victim's family, there are other cases in which restorative justice programs have managed to serve an additional role. (12) One of these roles is as an alternative to traditional justice structures like incarceration, particularly for juvenile offenders.

This Comment will argue that the traditional methods of punishment--in particular, detention--often fail to sufficiently address the problems presented by crimes in which the offender is a juvenile. The shortcomings of utilizing detention as the primary method of dealing with juvenile crime create a void in effective response mechanisms, which this Comment argues can be filled by further integrating restorative justice practices and principles into the juvenile justice system. Focusing on the City of Chicago, this Comment examines the present state of the juvenile criminal justice system and identifies possible barriers and solutions to integrating restorative justice practices in a system focused primarily on detention. In doing so, this Comment refers frequently to guidance provided by practitioners of restorative justice from Minnesota, a state is seen by many restorative justice proponents as a model for integrating restorative techniques. (13)

I. WHAT IS RESTORATIVE JUSTICE? …

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