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Community & Restorative Justice Systems

Can we create a truly just, equitable system?

The existing system tends to focus on ‘law & order’, punishment, and incarceration — but when young Black men are being killed every few days, it’s easy to see how far off the ‘law enforcement’ side is, and the high rates of recidivism show that the court and prisons systems don’t work either.

Can community-centered, participatory approaches be more successful than strict enforcement?

Are there ways to overcome the racist, violence-prone policing we’ve seen in many communities? Can restorative practices help heal victim, community, and offender? We will look at the many interdependent elements of community-building & prevention; problem-solving policing; alterna­tives to conventional prosecution, court, & punish­ment; and re-integration of offenders into the community to explore how concepts that have been extremely successful in other communities might work here in the Lehigh Valley.

Activities will include some or all of the following:

  • Research alternatives to the current policing methods and training
  • Research law-enforcement and other aspects of the justice system here and in other communities, including effectiveness, cost, and legal issues;
  • Meet with government and community leaders to explore options;
  • Create and distribute educational materials; and
  • Make presentations at public meetings and at schools, colleges, and community groups.

These unpaid internships are eligible for academic credit, subject to the requirements of your college or university. Internships generally require 10–12 hours per week plus some form of written or oral report, but be sure to check the internship requirements at your college or university.

Requirements:  Strong interest in effective community governance, public safety, and protecting civil liberties; strong interpersonal, writing, and problem-solving skills.

Updated March 2018