The existing justice systems tend 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. What can we do?
Rethink the System, Work for Change
Some questions we may look at, both here in the Lehigh Valley and on a larger scale:
- Can community-centered, participatory approaches be more successful than strict enforcement?
- Can restorative practices help heal victims, community, and offenders?
- To what extent do the justice systems perpetuate racism, patriarchy, & colonialism?
- Would improved training actually overcome the racist, violence-prone policing we’ve seen in many communities?
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.
Interns will use a combination of research and writing to rethink the law enforcement & the justice system. We’ll look at history, biases, and effectiveness of the system and at alternatives such as community-based systems and restorative practices.
Activities will include some or all of the following:
- Explore alternatives to the current policing methods and training
- Explore 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;
- Explore ways to deal with misinformation and disinformation taught in schools
- Make presentations at public meetings and at schools, colleges, and community groups.
We will use our online Sustainability Commons for collaboration and sharing content, coupled with frequent email communication on work in progress and regular meetings to meet with professionals in the field, review progress, and brainstorm ideas.
Requirements: Strong interest in social justice, effective community governance, public safety, and protecting civil liberties, plus strong interpersonal, writing, and problem-solving skills.
For more information about Alliance internships, see: internships.sustainlv.org