Sunday, October 21, 2007

Justice Gardeners

MO just continues to impress with its approach(es) to corrections sentencing. We've heaped praise on the state for its development of a sentencing info system to inform judges at sentencing and how that, combined with the usual guidelines and alternatives, seems to have made the state No.1 in reduced incarceration with no harm to public safety. [NOTE: Just because I have two degrees from MO, my son was born there and lives there now, and MU kicked Texas Tech's hindquarters yesterday, don't think I'm biased.] Now comes this story of successful restorative justice as inmates cultivate a "justice garden" to supply food banks for the elderly. Here's one nice part:

The Southeast Correctional Center project, started five years ago, is one of the state's seven restorative justice gardens that prison officials say provide a way for offenders to repair some of the harm they caused with their crimes - if not directly, in a symbolic way - and to find healing within. Besides food banks, their produce is donated to schools, senior centers, and other nonprofit groups.

Offenders participating in the gardens and other restorative justice activities also take classes in which they meet crime victims and reflect on the harm their criminal behavior caused.

The 40-hour curriculum is so popular that the class has a waiting list of 200 inmates.

Many offenders are "very remorseful for the crimes they committed and they want to give back to society in a positive way," said Jeananne Markway, Missouri's restorative justice coordinator.

What? What? Remorseful? Want to give back?? But . . . but . . . they're eeeevvillllll. Lock the door and throw away the key, don't they know? Why, next thing you know, they'll be cutting incarceration costs, restoring lives of both victims and offenders, saving money for other, more public safety effective spending, and putting the state on a rational course. Plainly, they must be stopped before this sanity spreads. Volunteers?

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