Leaders Discuss ‘Restorative Justice’

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

A State magistrate and tribal justice leader says there’s value to both systems. Tlingit Mike Jackson of Kake spoke at a session on restorative justice at the Elders and Youth Conference in Fairbanks yesterday.  Restorative Justice, which is used in misdemeanor cases, brings together an offender and community members to talk out what happened and come up with ways to make things right.  Jackson says it’s more about learning from what happened than simple punishment.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t repercussions for doing wrong.  Jackson says sentences for the most common offense, minor consuming, are always tougher than what he can hand out in state court.

Jackson says the restorative justice process is based on common values of respect, love and forgiveness that help people move on from what they did wrong, rather than become victims of the legal system.

He says he see a lot of people on the street who could benefit from restorative process, but that it’s not the best approach for all situations, and he respects the jurisdiction of the state to handle more serious crimes. Jackson’s work with restorative justice has been recognized by a Supreme Court justice and Harvard University J.F.K. School of Government.

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