Restorative Justice Urged As Alternative To Police Trials In Baltimore

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Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby is poised to continue cases against the three remaining charged officers in the Freddie Gray case despite two acquittals and a hung jury, says The Atlantic. The magazine suggestions that the prospect of using “restorative justice” may provide a “sorely-needed alternative” in the city. Restorative justice allows for direct mediation between victims of violence and police perpetrators. It allows direct dialogue between families, communities, and police departments. It relies on a much less staggering burden for action than criminal courts, and that generally involves restitution, an admission of guilt or responsibility, and requiring responsible parties to take action to minimize further harm. It avoids the near-inevitable letdown of communities hoping for verdicts and provides a remedy to the ineffectiveness of of using the criminal-justice system to police the police.

The Atlantic contends that, “Baltimore prosecutors are actually pushing criminal justice beyond where it usually goes in exploring police violence.” Indictments of police officers accused of misconduct are much rarer than internal investigations or civil proceedings from victims or their families. Police officers are protected by the aegis of state authority, and the standard of proof needed even to charge them with a crime is incredibly high. Even vivid video evidence did result in an indictment for McKinney, Tx., officer Eric Casebolt; a grand jury declined to indict him for pinning a black teenage girl to the ground after a pool party.  It was not enough for Cleveland officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, who were not indicted after a video showed Loehmann shooting 12-year-old Tamir Rice as he played in the park with a pellet gun.

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