Restorative Justice Approaches in US-American Cities – Smart Responses in Stressful Times?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 6:09 PM
Room: Booth 58
Oral Presentation
Friedrich PAULSEN , University of Münster, Muenster, Germany
In 2010, about 750 adults per 10,000 of the US population were incarcerated. Mass incarceration in the United States affects nearly solely poor urban communities of color. US American cities are focal points of racial divide. Since years, the withdrawal of public welfare and intensified criminal prosecution are two sides of one medal. Current processes like urban gentrification and the on-going economic crises are widening the gap between upper and lower strata of urban societies further. As social cohesion is harmed and cities are bankrupt, the level of stress experienced by the responsible and mostly local authorities increases. Does this stress turn the responses of authorities to the most vulnerable groups towards more innovative approaches to meet minorities needs best? Restorative justice approaches may offer more effective avenues to conflict resolution and enhance social cohesion and the communities’ capacity to build up resilience against crime and victimization. The main objective of the case study based research is if authorities in US cities made experiences of implementing new approaches of democratic and community-oriented police practices in urban areas where minority people live. Could new practices guide the way for general improvements of the relation among police and minorities in the US? The cases under qualitative study will be northeastern rust-belt cities, where industrial decline and financial austerity triggers further social divide and structural disadvantage of the urban Afro-American population. As it transpires that the predicted differences in the basic structure of police-citizens relations between Anglo-American Common Law cultures (where Restorative justice philosophy first originated from) and continental European Civil Law societies can be observed very clearly as a common denominator, results enable a comparative perspective among policing minorities with regard to Restorative justice in urban settings in Europe and the US.