A recently published book on prisons around the world, turns a spotlight on the “punishment“ focus of America Prisons and alternatives to that American Model. Baz Dreisinger, writes in her book, “Incarceration Nations: A Journey to Justice in Prisons Around the World”, that while many counties are creating their own American inspired “Super Max Prisons, ther are alternative models to consider as well. [The following is based on a an interview with the author by Robin Young of ”here and now”]
The Author relates her experience in visiting nine countires who have created alternative appraches to the “punishment“ oriented American model. In Places like Rwanda, which suffered thorugh crimes of genocide, the principal penal focus is on “healing” , reparations”, and restoration”. In Scandanaia, there are “Open Prisons” where people can come and go, allowing them to be a part of the community and work. And in Australia, where “Private Prisons” (while apprpriately villifed in the U.S.) have developed innovative, open approaches to prisons, that allows extensive community interaction and are run entirely on restorative principles.
Ms. Dresinger does an important servce by offering us a glimpse of the wide world of restorative justice that exist outside of the U.S. I believe it will be through an a open review of alternatives criminal justice systems and behavior modification models that we will create a just and humane criminal justice system here in the U.S..
Having traveled extensively abroad, and viisted prisons and court systems in many parts of the world, I agree with the authors’ findings that a more community-based, restorative approach to crimnal behavior is a critically needed in our present system (Rejecting the Conventional Prison; JTauber).
We know that communtiy based behavioral controls works; that healing through “restoratove justice principles” succed where punitive models don’t; that “community-based alternatives” are a far better foundation for creating a just society than one that is retribution based . But we remain fixed in our commitment to the one size fits all punitive prison model favored in the U.S. And that is an issue we must come to grips with.