The Catholic Church teaches that punishment must have a constructive and redemptive purpose and that it be coupled with treatment and, when possible, restitution. Rehabilitation and restoration must include the spiritual dimension of healing and hope. Since the publication of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' 2000 pastoral statement on restorative justice, the conversation surrounding the need for criminal justice reform and restorative justice has moved forward. Redemption and Restoration responds from a Catholic perspective to help form an educational campaign to equip Catholics and their leaders to participate in the national conversation on this issue, create the programs needed to assist in healing the harm caused by crime, and restore our communities.
The book develops the traditional Catholic understanding of justice, offers a theological understanding of restorative justice, explains how it can be implemented, and reflects on the practical arguments for restorative justice. Grounded in the stories of real people, Redemption and Restoration helps readers gain a deeper understanding of how this affects us all as a country and a church. It includes discussion questions to engage groups in exploring issues related to restorative justice.
David Matzko McCarthy, PhD, is the Father Forker Professor of Catholic Social Teaching in the theology department at Mount St. Mary's University. He is the author of Death Penalty and Discipleship: A Formation Guide (Liturgical Press, 2016), coeditor of Where Justice and Mercy Meet: Catholic Opposition to the Death Penalty (Liturgical Press, 2013), and the founding editor of the Journal of Moral Theology.
Vicki Schieber is a speaker, writer and ambassador for Catholic Mobilizing Network and the co-founder of Murder Victim's Families for Human Rights. As the mother of a murder victim, she is active in murder victim families support groups and a noted advocate for death penalty repeal. She is coeditor of Where Justice and Mercy Meet: Catholic Opposition to the Death Penalty (Liturgical Press, 2013).
Trudy D. Conway is professor emeritus at Mount St. Mary's University. She is active in the Catholic campaign against the death penalty and contributes to the educational initiatives of the Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty. She is coeditor of Where Justice and Mercy Meet: Catholic Opposition to the Death Penalty (Liturgical Press, 2013).
Bridges To Life brings together incarcerated offenders, victims of crime, and community volunteers in a restorative, faith-based process. The program has been active in 120 prisons across 12 states and five foreign countries. Among our 36,000 graduates, the rate of recidivism is 60% lower than the national average. There is a great demand for our involvement in transforming individual lives and the overall culture in prisons. The statistics and stories overwhelmingly prove that restorative justice works. I am so pleased to see this book with such comprehensive wisdom and information about restorative justice.
John Sage, Founder and CEO of Bridges To Life
In an era of mass incarceration, the American criminal justice system has become an unforgiving, heartbreaking place where optimism goes to die. Redemption and Restoration offers an inspiring alternative that focuses on restoring victims, protecting the community and providing offenders with opportunity to change. This is a timely and important book that embraces the power of hope and allows for the possibility of reconciliation and justice. One finishes the book with a sense of urgency. We can't wait any longer to end this war against ourselves, and restore trust and hope to our system of justice.
Jim Wyda, Federal Public Defender for Maryland
This book is a real gem. The book challenges citizens of the United States to move from a punishing system to a forgiving process of restorative justice. It gives a practical process for change and multiple examples of individuals and groups who have already begun to build a more biblical and humane system.
Those of us who work in the criminal justice environment know that it is broken, a system where issues of race, poverty, even geography, ensure that the playing field is anything but equal. We need to change how this system works if we are to end the warehousing and killing of our own citizens. That's where restorative justice-and this book!-come in. Restorative justice is a powerful tool that transforms our understanding of crime and shifts our focus from "broken laws" to damaged human relationships and the harm done to human dignity.
Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ, Author of Dead Man Walking and The Death of Innocents
It is vitally important that we cultivate compassion and mercy in our relationships with one another and with those on the margins. We must stand with our brothers and sisters who know the deep wounds of crime and incarceration and who, too often, are disregarded and forgotten in our society. Restorative justice shows us a path toward true kinship and this book offers great wisdom for how the Church can be a beacon for reconciliation, healing and hope in a hurting world.
Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, Founder and Director of Homeboy Industries, author of Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion and Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship
Written with the goals of educating about restorative justice and inspiring hope, this text is a great resource for readers who are just diving into the topic. Those connected to the criminal legal system, prison ministry groups, or justice-based parish book clubs will also find each chapter ripe with content for reflection.
In my experience, most middle-class American Catholics assume restorative justice is pie-in-the-sky liberalism barely supportable by facts, let alone by Church teaching and tradition. The collaborators of this work thoroughly disabuse the reader of such faulty notions, demonstrating that restorative justice is the justice of Scripture, is the justice illuminated by Catholic teaching and tradition, and is effective. In the face of a revenge-based criminal justice system that is morally bankrupt and threatens to financially bankrupt our entire society, we no longer have the option to muddle through. We can either follow after the revenge-pandering politicians, like lemmings rushing over the cliffs of ruin, or adhere to the moral authority of the Church and the Scriptures calling us to a different way: restorative justice.
Dale S. Recinella, JD, MTS, Catholic Correctional Chaplain, Florida Death Row
The contributors to this much-needed volume propose that Catholics and others should both broaden and deepen our understanding of justice, integrating its varied forms (retributive justice, commutative justice, distributive justice, and social justice) so as to include and be reoriented toward restorative justice. Indeed, to borrow an adjective from recent popes, including Pope Francis, I would say this important endeavor exemplifies an integral justice that will help readers to promote and practice a just peace for all who are affected by crime in their communities.
Tobias Winright, Maeder Endowed Chair of Health Care Ethics and Associate Professor of Theological Ethics, Saint Louis University