A BRIDGE TO ORDER?
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE AND MENTAL ADJUSTMENT
IN URBAN AMERICA
Stephanie R. Milton
Department of Political Science
Washington University in St. Louis
219 Eliot Hall, Campus Box 1063
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
DRAFT: January 6, 2004
This is a work in progress. Please do not cite.
Theorists from Aristotle to Wright have pondered principles of justice and
fulfillment on state and individual levels. In the modern urban setting, "justice" is
understood to be retributive; both the criminal justice system and citizens, especially
traditionally marginalized groups, act through adversarial roles. Intolerance for "criminal"
behavior, as well as an administration viewed as prejudiced and/or biased by class
becomes apparent. (See Avery 2001, Gibson 1986, Gibson and Gouws 2001, and Sears,
Sidanius and Bobo 2000). In urban areas, in particular, citizens have little regard for the
criminal justice system in place. Yet, public opinion, viewed through polls, as well as
political rhetoric, seems squarely in favor of this punitive-based system.
There is a burgeoning movement in North America to introduce and implement
alternative forms of justice administration. The U.S. uses alternative dispute resolution in
civil matters in many states; fewer states use avenues of restorative justice, and usually
when there are juvenile offenders. Interestingly, in the U.S. these methods are practiced
mainly in rural areas, like American Indian reservations, agricultural communities and
the Pacific Northwest. Religious and private non-profit organizations are fervent
advocates of restorative justice programs, particularly for already-imprisoned offenders.
I propose a research design that will summarize and analyze a model currently
implemented; then I hope to record urban citizen reactions to these forms, through the use
of surveys. I believe that urban citizen tolerance for criminal justice administration will
increase when prese