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Re: [SACC-L] Fwd: Peacemaking: from Global Village News & Resources for Apr...

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  • LAWolfe@aol.com
    sorry this didn t go through before.... Navajos Replace Punishment With Peacemaking USA - Arizona - In a bold experiment, which is actually a return to
    Message 1 of 1 , May 4, 2001
      sorry this didn't go through before....

      Navajos Replace Punishment With Peacemaking USA - Arizona - In a bold
      experiment, which is actually a return to traditional ways, the Navajo
      Nation Council has changed their criminal code to eliminate jail time and
      fines for 79 offences.; It is now requiring the use of peacemakers in all
      criminal cases to insure justice, right relations, and to protect the
      rights of victims.

      The new code is based on the traditional Navajo concept of "nalyeeh,” a
      word that refers to the process of confronting those who have hurt others
      with a demand that they talk things out. This is where the peacemaker
      comes in.

      The Navajo peacemaking session brings the accused and the victim face to
      face, along with those family members who wish to be present. The session
      is moderated by an official peacemaker, who is generally a respected
      community leader. Each party is given an opportunity to talk about what
      happened and how they feel about it.

      Whereas the “Western” penal system, which grew out of Christianity, is
      based on the concept of the punishment of evil, the Navajo system is based
      on the idea of the restoration of balance in the community. When a crime
      is committed, the balance of the community, the individuals involved, and
      the Universe, is disturbed and must be reestablished.

      Their method of restoring the balance is to identifying it, discuss it,
      and to involve all parties in developing a plan to deal with it. For
      example, the relatives of the accused might be asked to watch over their
      relative to be sure he does not reoffend, or the accused might be asked to
      give a symbolic object as part of the restitution process. Horses, for
      instance, are prized possessions of the Navajo people and they are a form
      of restitution for serious sexual insults. Such a symbol might mean
      anything from "I'm sorry" to "Let this be a symbol and something tangible
      to remind us that we have talked this hurt out and entere!d into good
      relations with each other."

      This experiment could prove to be an invaluable one. The Navajo Nation
      courts see 28,000 criminal cases every year, but have enough jail space
      for only 220 people at any one time. By returning to a traditional method
      of justice that concentrates on the effects of a crime rather than how to
      punish its perpetrator, the Navajos could be offering a lesson to the rest
      of America and the western world. It is simply not viable to keep locking
      up a major part of the population, and peacemaking could be a way of
      reducing that prison population while letting the offenders see the
      effects of their crimes. Most importantly of all, perhaps, it puts the
      victim (or the person harmed by the crime) at the center of the justice

      (Source: Institute for Social Inventions. From an article by The Honorable
      Robert Yazzie, entitled 'Navajo justice', in YES! A Journal of Positive
      Futures: www.yesmagazine.org.)
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