Oakland Declares Restorative Justice Week

The Oakland City Council declared the third week of November ever year Oakland Restorative Justice Resolution and November 15 to be “Restorative Justice Day,” by a unanimous vote.  The resolution calls for Oakland residents to envision how to apply a restorative justice approach to existing systems including education, policing, prisons, and health care and calls on government to be “creative and innovative in looking at ‘justice’ through a restorative justice lens.” It further resolves that the City of Oakland diligently pursue funding to implement restorative justice practices that might improve police/community relations.

For the last 18 months, STIC and our allies have been offering restorative justice approaches as a means of addressing violence and harm in Oakland.  We’ve offered research and case studies to city leaders (see our “Resources” page).  “While we are encouraged to see the City Council unanimously stand behind restorative justice principles, we’d be much more encouraged to see them actually apply those principles to violence in our communities rather than continue to pursue ineffective, costly approaches such as injunctions.

The OPD has recently cost the city millions and millions of dollars in repressing the Occupy Oakland movement and in police brutality lawsuits.  According to one recent report, OPD tops all Bay Area police forces in payouts (police brutality cases)–$57 million in the past 10 years, which alone almost matches our City’s $58 million deficit.

How are these policing expenditures connected to other ineffective police-measures like injunctions?  Injunctions, while not delivering real safety, are costing the city over a million dollars in legal fees!  STIC questions the fiscal responsibility of continuing to incur mounting costs related to litigating injunction cases in court, especially when there is a marked lack of support for the practice both among City Council members and Oakland residents.

We appreciate that Council Member Nadel has consistently shown strong leadership in advocating for restorative justice approaches. She recently indicated that restorative justice would be a good alternative approach to the costly, ineffective gang injunctions currently being pursued by the city (see video above).  Many of us are committed to reducing harm and violence in Oakland. We hope that Nadel’s calls for a more balanced, creative, and long-term strategy for addressing the violence and harm will be followed through by real action.  We thank our supporters and so many community members for working and building every day to make these possibilities into realities (this makes us think of Victor Rios’ book release party last Friday!  Look out on the blog for footage from that soon!).

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