2013-2014 High school essay contest: Honorable mention

Mass incarceration in the United States is only increasing as people are being arrested for behaviors that previously would not merit jail time and serving longer sentences for them. The growing jail population is having negative effects socially and economically on the nation. An increased interest in the restorative justice approach has started to turn things around. Restorative justice programs have proven to lower jail return rates of participants, provide closure for the victims, and improve the environments of the affected communities. Federal policy can reflect biblical lessons on forgiveness by allowing restorative justice to play a larger role in mass incarceration, extending the benefits to impact people on a larger scale, ultimately lowering the prison population.

Not every method of restorative justice will be appropriate for every case, so each case would be tailored to fit the situation. Resolving each specific situation using biblical tactics would only be beneficial as communities are slowly healed, jail expenses go down, families are brought together, and respectable qualities like responsibility are brought back. Changing the Federal policy to include restorative justice will ultimately lower the prison population and raise a generation of people with strengthened, quality values.

-Excerpted from “Restorative justice” by Kinza Yoder, Bethany Christian Schools (Goshen, Indiana), Grade 12.

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