2015 Summit: Restorative Justice News

Summit on Human Dignity reveals opinions on criminal justice system

By Austin Norville ’15
THE ROUNDUP

The theme of this year’s Summit is restorative justice and students are beginning to give their opinions on the issue and a system many say is in need of reform.

“I of course cannot claim to be an expert on the state of the U.S. justice system, but I don’t believe expertise is needed to diagnose a very stark problem. In my opinion, the U.S. criminal justice system is in dire need of reform, as evidenced by its highest incarceration rate in the world,” wrote senior Anand Swaminathan ’15 in an email to The Roundup. “What also makes the situation more problematic and complicated, in my view, is the fact that certain ethnicities are incarcerated at highly disproportionate rates. Adding onto this issue, our increasingly privatized prisons are negatively affecting an already broken system.”

According to Gilbert Prosecutor Mr. Jim Richter, who has two sons who went to Brophy, the system is changing.

“I think there’s the natural improvement and evolution to a better system. One of the biggest things that’s changing right now is the use of officer body cameras. They’re being put in place and the criminal system is adjusting to those,” Richter said. “Prosecutors have to make all those videos available to defense attorneys if somebody is charged with something from an incident that was videotaped.”

Richter said he believes it will change the way the public interacts with police officers.

Swaminathan agrees with this year’s Summit theme.

“I definitely support Brophy’s choice of restorative justice as this year’s Summit topic,” Swaminathan wrote in an email. “The state of the U.S. criminal justice system is becoming an increasingly pertinent topic in our cultural conversation, and justifiably so. I think it’s time that we as a school look at our nation’s incarceration addiction, and ask the question of whether justice is truly being done in our society,”

According to Richter, it is important for students to be well informed on our criminal justice system.

“I think it’s really important for everyone to understand what goes on and what all the procedures are. It’s important for people to understand how interactions with officers are supposed to proceed,” Richter said.

Richter said he believes there is a misunderstanding between the public and the criminal justice system, especially as it comes to the case in Ferguson.

“I don’t think there is any racial profiling, I think confrontations between suspects and officers are often misunderstood by the public,” Richter said.

Swaminathan also wrote all citizens should be well informed on the subject.

“I think all citizens should be involved in the criminal justice system conversation; so, Brophy students, by extension, should be as well. We are all inevitably affected by the complexities and problems within our criminal justice system,” Swaminathan said.  “Brophy students have a unique privilege and responsibility to carefully study these issues at a young age and, hopefully, move to enact justice as they see fit.”