A Different Justice
Love and the Future of Criminal Justice Practice in America
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The criminal justice system in America does not work, and, from the perspective of current criminological thought, no ideas exist for how to truly fix it. The fault lies not with criminology as a discourse, but with us as individuals. We must, together, address three fundamental questions regarding our capacity and willingness to make a justice system of which we would be proud to pass off to our children. Specifically, we must decide (1) whether or not we are permanently saddled with a hobbling justice system; (2) if we are not inextricably bound to brokenness, whether we are brave enough to strike out for the undiscovered country; and (3) if we have the ability to embrace love despite the vulnerability it imposes. Specifically, each of us must find within ourselves the capacity to bravely love, without qualification, ourselves, each other, and our world.
The purpose of this work is to discover what justice would look like were it predicated on love. Sacred sources, including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, along with the thought of scholars like Erich Fromm, Karl Marx, Simone Weil, and Paolo Freire, are examined in detail for insights into the nature of love. Space is devoted to an attempt to understand why American justice practice is so broken despite the noble work of so many. The last two chapters offer both a criminology of love and a sketch of a criminal justice system predicated on love.
"Criminal justice in the United States is profoundly out of balance, driven by fear of those we catch violating the law. Michael DeValve calls on us to restore balance by recognizing and being moved by the force of love, the force I have called peacemaking. He has given this reader a more profound understanding of the meaning of love in the Christian Bible, and how it applies to the treatment of those we label offenders, than I have encountered elsewhere. He further demonstrates that this love that connects rather than separates us is equally central to Islam, Hinduism, and to the practice of mindfulness in the Buddhism he practices. I would add that love as he describes it is equally central to secular humanism. This volume is a much-needed corrective to the prevailing ideology that those who harm others in violation of the law are a species apart from those of us who enforce the law. You don't have to be religious to read this timely work and gain a deeper appreciation of what loving others as we love ourselves entails in all our human relations, particularly in confronting what we call the problem of criminality." — Hal Pepinsky, Professor Emeritus, Criminal Justice, Indiana University Bloomington; author of Peacemaking: Reflections of a Radical Criminologist
"I really enjoyed your book — and especially like the wide range of sources you draw on, inside and outside of criminology, and the paradigm-changing argument you make. I am very sympathetic to your approach and, in fact, I think it's compatible with my recent Criminology article on Social Concern and Crime. I did not really describe a criminal justice system based on social concern — except to say that it would focus on cultivating the good in people rather than punishing the bad — so I was quite interested to read your description of a new CJ system and was very drawn to it." — Robert Agnew, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Sociology, Emory University; Past President, American Society of Criminology
"I really, really enjoyed this book. It's a rare academic book that I open with the enthusiasm and anticipation that I do this one; the words and ideas immediately connected with me in a way that engages/energizes both my heart and mind. I've thought a lot about many concepts in relation to the CJ system and its apparatuses over the years, often focusing on the need for more empathy, connection, compassion and mercy and less dehumanization, aggression, coercion and division/disconnection. This seems to all be unified in the author's idea/conceptualization of love. It's an important book, and I hope it gets the attention it deserves." — Scott Vollum, University of Minnesota-Duluth
"It is a masterful work. I don't know of anything like it in criminology/criminal justice/sociology. It includes the author's many years of thinking about crime and justice—and his many years of reading and practicing the wisdom literature that is usually outside the confines of our discipline. I also appreciate knowing about his family, and the generations, in his development and life—all in relation to his writing this book on criminal justice." — Richard Quinney, professor (retired), Northern Illinois University, author, photographer