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The Framework of Transformative Justice

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The Framework of Transformative Justice (TJ) emerged from the needs and imaginations of people who could not safely rely upon state institutions to address harm and violence (i.e. Black, Brown, poor, disabled, queer/trans people of color, sex workers, drug users, and systems-impacted folks). TJ explicitly removes power from carceral institutions (i.e. police, courts, child welfare system, etc.) and builds power amongst people impacted by state and interpersonal violence.

Transformative Justice is often practiced in tandem with Restorative Justice. Like Restorative Justice, TJ encourages people who caused harm to take responsibility and be accountable to addressing the survivor’s needs, while uplifting the dignity and humanity of both parties. Where RJ focuses on relationships and repair, TJ emphasizes identifying root causes of harm and calls upon the community to transform the social and structural conditions that allow harm to occur. TJ practices include community support and accountability circles, as well as developing safety plans, pod-mapping, community organizing, and other ongoing collective work. 

In our work, we aim to make Restorative Practices transformative, and to emphasize the importance of both relationships and social change. For more information on the overlap and divergence of TJ and RJ practices, read Transformative Justice: A Brief Description (Mia Mingus) and Restorative or transformative justice? (Howard Zehr, 2011).

Retributive Justice

  • Centers the law and the criminal-legal system and disregards the needs or desires of survivor/person-harmed.
  • Requires understanding the legal code and relying upon government institutions and outside parties to enforce it.
  • Asks which laws were broken, who broke them, and what punishment is mandated or permitted by the legal code.
  • Frames accountability as receiving punishment, and frames fairness as doing harm to those who commit crimes.
  • Removes agency from the survivor and community, and requires the arbitration of outside institutions and professionals (i.e. police, lawyers).
  • Fractures relationships within the community and breeds isolation.

Restorative Justice

  • Centers the needs and experience of the survivor/person harmed and affirms the inherent dignity of person who caused harm.
  • Requires community relationships.
  • Requires identifying harm and determining resulting obligations.
  • Sharing from various ages/eras each week
  • Asks who was impacted, and how, as well as what their needs are.
  • Focuses on relationships, where they were fractured, and how they can be repaired.
  • Frames accountability as acknowledging and taking responsibility for harm, working to repair harm and addressing the survivor’s needs, while changing behavior to prevent harm in the future.
  • Recognizes collective power and interdependence
  • Puts power into the hands of the survivor and impacted community members (sometimes includes local organizations that provide technical support).
  • Promotes relationship-building and healing within and between individuals and communities.

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Community Resource Initiative, DBA Full Picture Justice, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization | Tax ID 26-0564961
3030B 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Mailing Address: PO Box 411347, San Francisco, CA 94141