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67 Rev. Jur. U.P.R. 661 (1998)
Community Conferences: Reshaping Criminal Justice

handle is hein.journals/rjupurco67 and id is 675 raw text is: 






   COMMUNITY CONFERENCES: RESHAPING CRIMINAL
                          JUSTICE

                     WILLIAM G. SCHMA*

   The care of human life and happiness, and not their de-
   struction, is the first and only legitimate object of good
   government.
                                        - Thomas Jefferson'
  In his challenging and provocative article, Professor Thomas
Scheff addresses a defect in the criminal justice system in the
United States: it is not suited to meet the emotional needs of its
participants. In a system devoted to process, there is little per-
sonal interaction, and participants find the system ineffective in
meeting the genuine emotional needs which they experience and
bring to it.
  To make his point, professor Scheff focuses his attention on
the perpetrator and the victim in the criminal justice system
and the emotional conflict they experience with one another. He
posits that in controlled circumstances they-and ultimately so-
ciety-will be better served by a system of community conferenc-
ing which mediates their conflict through direct communication
instead of by submitting it to traditional advocacy. He concludes
enthusiastically that this alternative method of dispute resolu-
tion has potential to reshape modern systems of justice.
  Community conferencing blends two alternative approaches to
legal analysis: restorative justice and therapeutic jurisprudence
(RTJ). Practiced successfully, it restructures the criminal justice
process to meet those emotional needs which the traditional
criminal justice system often neglects. Courts of law are de-
signed to be truth machines--forums for sorting out disputed
facts. But this machinery is not only unnecessary, it is counter-
productive in cases where significant facts are not in dispute. In
such circumstances, the well-being of the victim and the rehabil-


  * Ninth Judicial Circuit Court Judge.
  Cited in The National Drug Control Strategy, February 1997, Office of
National Drug Control Policy, Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, Director.


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