The United States continues to wrestle with issues of policing and impartiality under the law. The increase in recording of police interactions with citizens has attention to issues that were spoken about for many years: the overuse of force, and falsification of reports that support the word of the officer. This has lead for a call to use technology, such as body cameras, to create greater accountability for officers.
Examining incarceration and conviction rates show that blacks, latinos, and native americans punished disproportionately, compared to whites.
To frame that another way, as a white middle-class male I have substantially less concern during my interactions with police, whatever the case may be. As someone with a modest income and an existing support structure of friends and family who have financial means, I’m more likely to make bail should I ever be arrested for some reason, and not get stuck in jail, unconvicted, while awaiting charges or a trial.
I don’t see the world as fair, or that everyone is created equally, but I do believe in equal treatment under the law. With so many systemic issues that currently exist in society it raises the question if technological solutions and incarceration are best ways to handle justice in America, or elsewhere. After speaking with Melanie I am convinced that restorative justice holds the keys to unlocking a more just, fair, and peaceful society.
As permaculture practitioners we can use this idea into our daily lives, and introduce the concept as we work on social and economic permaculture. Doing so raises awareness and makes the practice of restorative justice more well known.
As we stop the war on invasive species, let’s also stop the war on our fellow human beings.
...we are all more than the worst thing we've ever done.
Bryan Stevenson. Executive Director,
My guest for this episode is Melanie G. Snyder, author of Grace Goes to Prison who works on issues of restorative justice and prisoner re-entry. You can find out more information about her and her work at
One of the core ideas of her work is “prison as a last resort” and that forms the theme for this interview, and how restorative justice, and rehabilitation and treatment programs impact in a positive way the people and communities who use these options. I see this conversation as an important way for permaculture practitioners to apply what we know, especially among those with sociology, psychology, law, or criminal justice backgrounds, to engage the system that exists and create a better world that values all the people who are a part of it.
This very candid conversation touches on a number of stories of people from my life impacted by the criminal justice system. Melanie’s work and this conversation matter to me, and from speaking with many other people it matters to them, too, because of their loved ones who could have been saved if other options existed. Listen if you know anyone who has ever had a negative interaction with the law and consider how implementing restorative justice and re-entry programs in your community help create a better world.
Work like Melanie’s is important for breaking us out of the mold of current thinking and shows that other systems are possible. We don’t live in an unchangeable machine, we’re not cogs or sprockets. We are part of a dynamic living system and we can change it to be more kind, more peaceful, and more beneficial to all.
The Four Questions of Restorative Justice
1. Who has been harmed by a crime?
2. What are their needs?
3. Who should be accountable for addressing the needs and harms that were caused by the crime?
4. What can be done to address the harm?
- Practical Possibilities with Ethan Hughes The interview that introduced me to the idea of restorative justice and circles.
- Nonviolent Communication with Karl Steyaert A way for us to communicate more effectively in our interpersonal relationships, and in conflict resolution and mediation. A useful tool when seeking ways to work through problems and avoid the criminal justice system.
How can I help you create a better world? Get in touch.
The Permaculture Podcast with Scott Mann
P.O. Box 16
Dauphin, PA 17018