Gavrielides at the 4th  USA National Conference on Restorative Justice, 2013 Toledo, USA

Gavrielides chairing the annual IARS international lecture - Hate Crime and Restorative Justice (UK - 2015)

Race equality in probation Gavrielides consultation (2013 - London)

Race, Power & Restorative Justice: The dialogue we never had

 

Brain specialists and cognitive psychologists claim that the way we create meaning is through a process of visualization of images infused with feelings that lead to connections. The word ‘table’, for instance, creates a visual image of a surface (most often square) standing on four legs. Conversely, when viewing something resembling this image, our brain labels it as ‘table’. Interestingly, online search engines function in a similar way. Try searching for images using the word ‘table’ and you will most likely get thousands of hits resembling the aforementioned description.

Now, try and visualize the word ‘justice’ or even ‘criminal justice’. When applying the test of using search engines, my hits rendered the same images that were in my mind. These were: the balanced scales of justice, the blindfolded Greek Goddess Themis (again holding the balanced scales of justice and a sword), holding hands or a fist. 

 

Reflecting on the findings of this homemade test, I argue that most of us visualise justice in this way simply because we view it as virtue, a value-based notion, a higher purpose and an honourable goal that can give essence to our life paths and sacrifices. My brain did not visualize justice in the form of prisons, courts, suited white men or ministries and politicians.

 

I believe, that our brains deny diminishing justice to an image anything less than a representation of a higher existence. And yet, when an injustice takes place, we ask for prison bars, tall walls, courtrooms and lawyers. This demand is not by coincidence. I believe it is the result of many decades of conscious planning to achieve what Foucault and many others have noted as control and power.

 

The project "Race, Power and Restorative Justice: The dialogue we never had" will take the next step in linking justice, restorative justice and the power that surrounds us with the purpose of elevating us to a higher space for research, policy and practice. I also aim to challenge the notion of race and race equality as these have been perceived within a controlled and top-down structured justice system. I am not talking about critical race theory. I am, in fact, aiming to deconstruct the notion of race, while contextualising it within the current reality of power that racialise us all.

I was fortunate enough to secure a publishing agreement with Routledge (Taylor & Francis) who will be disseminating the results of the project in the form of a book titled:  Gavrielides, T. (Forthcoming). Race, Power & Restorative Justice: The dialogue we Never Had. Abingdon: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-4724-8835-0

 

The project is unfunded and in the early stages of its development. To support the work please contact me directly. I have also issued a Call for Case studies.

Key objectives

 

The key objective of the project is to have the dialogue that restorative justice never had with notions of power and race as well as collect evidence that will subsequently allow a better criminal justice experience by black and minority ethnic groups.

 

Race is understood within a wider context, and contextualised within the current political, financial, institutional and policy realities of our times at local, national and international levels.  Putting race inequlities within the context of power, the project and thus the resulting book will present evidenced based arguments and cases studies illustrating alternative ways of delivering justice and criminal justice for oppressed and marginalised groups. 

 

Race inequality will also be used as the platform for challenging restorative justice, and for realising its potential for balancing power of any sort. For instance, we now have enough evidence to safely claim that one of the groups that are let down the most by our criminal justice systems is black and other racially under-represented communities (Kang, 2005; Dorling, 2011). The international literature on disproportionality (e.g. prison population, stop and search, arrests and sentencing patterns), race relations between offenders and criminal justice agents (police, judges, prison and probation staff), the appropriateness of interventions and issues around explicit and implicit racism is rich. Since restorative justice is brought back as a reaction to a failing criminal justice system, a newcomer to restorative justice would expect that its first normative promises and aspirations should have been for those who are let down the most.

 

The project will aim to bridge this gap in the restorative justice and race equality literature, research, policy and practice.

 

Despite the successes of restorative justice, the continues obvious racial disparities in court and prison systems as well as the bureaucratization of restorative programmes are now the key challenges that researchers need to face if the restorative justice movement is to continue.

 

I believe that social change will come from providing an alternative vision of a more caring and safe society as exhibited by creativity and artistry of compassionate people. Although there have been some studies on issues surrounding diversity (Albercht, 2010), hate incidents (Gavrielides, 2007; 2012; Walters, 2012), power dynamics among participants and facilitators (Gavrielides, 2008; Charkoudian and Wayne, 2010; Schiff, 2013), and mediators’ adequate cultural training (Davidheiser, 2000), the relationship between restorative justice and race remains largely unexplored both normatively and empirically (Hamer, Jenkins and Moore, 2013; Gavrielides, 2014). 

 

Through a multi-disciplinary dialogue that uses social sciences, criminology, law, psychology and human rights, the book aims to open new avenues for practitioners, researchers and policy makers internationally. 

 

Background to the project

 

 The project is underway and it builds on previous work carried out by the author, particularly:

  • Gavrielides T. (2014). “Bringing Race Relations into the Restorative Justice Debate”. Vol. 45: No. 3, Journal of Black Studies, pp. 216-246.

  • Gavrielides, T. (2013). “Restorative Pain: A new vision of punishment” in Gavrielides, T. and V. Artinopoulou (Ed). Reconstructing Restorative Justice Philosophy, Ashgate Publishing: Furnham, UK, 311-337.The Second International Restorative Justice Symposium: Race and Power

  • Gavrielides, T. (2012). “Contextualising Restorative Justice for Hate Crime”. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. doi: 10.1177/0886260512447575

  • Gavrielides, T. (2011). “Restorative Practices & Hate Crime: Opening up the debate”. 14:4 Temida, 7- 19. DOI: 10.2298/ TEM1104007G 

  • Gavrielides, T. (2010) “Restoring relationships: hate crime and restorative justice” in European best practices of restorative justice in the criminal procedures: Budapest conference 2009, European Union: Hungary.

  • Gavrielides, T. et al (2008) Restoring Relationships: Addressing hate crime through restorative justice and multi-agency partnerships¸ ROTA: London. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.2494.4086.

 

Get involved

 

I am interested to hear your views on the matter. The project is under development and hence your feedback and thoughts will be extremely appreciated. A Call for case studies is also open for online submission.

 

As fieldwork is planned and remains unsponsored, funders and donors interested in this programme may contact rj4allpublications@gmail.com 

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