Alternatives to Incarceration
Stopping the construction of prisons is only one step towards the better society that ADPSR aspires to. To minimize the use of prisons, we need to develop alternatives to imprisonment as responses to anti-social behavior. A tremendously important first step in this direction would be to pass better laws: we should rescind "three strikes" laws and mandatory minimum sentencing rules to restore individualized justice to each person charged. We should also end the "War on Drugs" to decriminalize behaviors that can be addressed through medical care and social work and pose no harm to others. (Most drug offenders are in prison for non-violent crimes and pose no threat to society.) Then we could move towards "restorative justice," in which an offender can make restitution to those who have been hurt, and to society at large, in a community process of work and reconciliation. Community participation in judicial processes is well known among many indigenous peoples' societies, including many native to North America, and has helped inspire other community approaches.
Finally, we face the challenge of building a society that fully realizes the principles of freedom, justice, and equality for all of its citizens. This society will require public and private spaces that assist these tasks. As architects, designers, and planners, and as citizens, we have a big future ahead of us in building a society that is capable of showing full respect and care for each of its members. ADPSR pledges to work towards this goal.
Copyright 2004 ADPSR unless otherwise noted.