The Lessons of Ferguson and Beyond-Several Ways to Combat Violence, Prevent, and maintain a community that fosters Accountability not Punishment!
By Gregg L Greer, Editor for One World
In Ferguson, Missouri the town that was rocked with protests over police On Saturday, August 9, 2014, when an unarmed 18-year-old male, Michael Brown, was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, a Ferguson police officer many in the community around the country where not surprised to hear of multiple stories of police abuse that had taken place. While the Justice Department has launched a broad investigation into the police department in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting of Mike Brown, many African-American residents still feel that the situation is hopeless and are still very frustrated. In order to effect change we (residents) must strive to repair the harm caused by crime to individual victims and communities, the focus must be two-sided, that means prevention of Police Brutality as well as prevention of a culture that chronic criminal offenders are punished on all sides is much needed.
In an a recent interview with CBS “Sunday Morning Marquis Govan a resident that is 11 years old, argued for change,” Govan shared his vision for Ferguson, saying he thinks one way to improve things is for the town to hire more African-American police officers. But Govan told CBS’ Jane Pauley there’s a reason you don’t see many minorities on the police force.
Look, let me tell you why: From the beginning we’ve felt abused by these people. Why would you go up to serve among the abusers? It doesn’t make any sense,” Govan said.
While, many would dismiss the point of view of an 11 year old, Marquis Govan does make an effective augment. To fight police abuse effectively, communities must have realistic expectations. You must not expect too much of any one remedy because no single remedy will cure the problem. A “mix” of reforms is required. And even after citizen action has won reforms, your community must keep the pressure on through monitoring and oversight to ensure that the reforms are actually implemented.
Nonetheless, even one person, or a small group of persistent people, can make a big difference. Sometimes outmoded and abusive police practices prevail largely because no one has ever questioned them.
CONTROL-Starts with You!
Most people (residents) don’t get it! -The community is the nexus of community justice; therefore, each individual community must began to understand that community is the preferred source of problem solving and citizens work to prevent victimization, provide conflict resolution and maintain peace. The community, including individual victims and offenders, must become the ultimate partner of the justice system for every residents safety and well-being. Here are some basic suggestions;
(The goals listed are suggestions that will ultimately provide a safe environment for all if your community or it’s officials are in any way in opposition to any goal that will promote betterment. Fight for it! Period!)
CONTROLLING THE POLICE — COMMUNITY GOALS
Control of Police Shootings
Oversight of Police Policy
Equal Employment Opportunity for Police Force. and City Offices
Certification and Licensing of Police Officers
Accreditation of Your Police Department
ORGANIZING STRATEGIES— For Communities
Use Open Records Laws
Educate the Public
Use the Political Process to Win Reforms (bad Judges, and Prosecutors must go!)
Lobby For State Legislation
Restorative and Community Justice Forums
Everyone makes mistakes-but “Restorative Justice,” is an approach to justice that doesn’t focus on the needs of the victims and the offenders, it also involves the community, instead of satisfying abstract legal principles or punishing the offender. The emphasis is on meeting the needs of and strengthening the community-Not Punishment which is the basis of the Criminal Justice System!
Community justice is a strategic method of crime reduction and prevention, which builds or enhances partnerships within communities. Community justice policies confront crime and delinquency through proactive, problem-solving practices aimed at prevention, control, reduction and reparation of the harm crime has caused.
Positive effects of a comprehensive community justice strategy:
Includes both adult and juvenile offenders;
Focuses on creating safer communities rather than on doing things to or for offenders;
Pursues the goal of public safety within a scope of preventing victimization;
Places a high priority on the rights and needs of victims and the community;
Seeks harmonious working relations among all justice components and practices, citizens, community and social service organizations, educational systems, and faith communities;
Focuses on problems causing as well as caused by crime; and
Promotes correctional programming that is based on sound research and measurable for effectiveness.
Why we need Restorative/Community Justice
Restorative justice is a practice centered on the idea that justice can be about healing instead of simply “punishment.” It emphasizes repairing harms rather than punishing crimes, giving victims and offenders the opportunity to engage in dialogue around the harm itself, assessing the impact on the victim and outlining the steps necessary to ensure offender accountability and meet the victim’s needs.
Victims take an active role in the process, while offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions, “to repair the harm they’ve done—by apologizing, returning stolen money, or community service”. Restorative justice involves both victim and offender and focuses on their personal needs. In addition, it provides help for the offender in order to avoid future offences. It is based on a theory of justice that considers crime and wrongdoing to be an offence against an individual or community.
Recognize and Resolve the problem!
These efforts help to create and maintain a vital, healthy, safe and just community where crime and delinquency cannot flourish is key. Crime is confronted by addressing social disorder, criminal activities and behavior, and by holding offenders accountable for the harm they cause to victims and the community. Working to prevent crime and its harmful effects; doing justice by addressing problems rather than merely complaining, processing cases; and promoting community protection through proactive, problem-solving work practices plus interventions go along way into changing criminal behavior behavior. In short, no one deserves to lose their life for something that could have been avoided, and some cases-stories of justice may be push the limits above and beyond right and wrong. Then you must fight for your rights!