Resolution on Restorative Justice

The 200th General Assembly (1988) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) adopted a statement on "Prison Violence and Nonviolent Alternatives" that reaffirmed the theology of previous General Assemblies in urging that "individual Presbyterians and the entities of the General Assembly . . . advocate a social order where compassion and justice characterize efforts toward those in the criminal justice system." The statement went on to call for "changing a prison system that is based on the concept of punishment to one that encourages the restoration of the offender to the community and the development of alternatives to incarceration." The statement expressed concern regarding the violent nature of prisons as institutions and expressed "the need to develop a nonpunitive philosophy that stresses the use of the least restrictive alternatives to imprisonment, including community-based corrections."

In keeping with this and previous General Assembly actions, the Criminal Justice Program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has become an articulate voice within a widespread movement that is best known as restorative justice. Restorative justice is sometimes called transforming or transformative justice, creative justice, relational justice, reparative justice, or healing justice. It is a fairly new term, but it is not a new idea. Christians find its roots in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.


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