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The power of restorative justice

Councilwoman Rikki Spector has joined forces with UEmpower of Maryland in mentoring the two teens who violently carjacked her in 2016.

It was encouraging to read your recent article, “Two boys carjacked an 80-year-old Baltimore City Councilwoman. Now she’s their advocate” (Jan. 3). Restorative justice is a powerful, redemptive tool that helps the victim heal and engages youth, their families and communities in the justice process.

Unfortunately, this highly effective practice is seldom used for youth who commit violent offenses. As this example demonstrates, the true potential of the restorative process to transform individuals, relationships and communities is frequently best realized in instances where the most harm has occurred. I applaud former councilwoman Rochelle “Rikki” Spector for being a true caretaker of her constituents by pursuing the most effective rehabilitative process — one that required empathy and “acts of loving kindness.”

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My hope is that jurisdictions learn from Ms. Spector’s example and look to adopt and nurture restorative processes to respond to all youth offending.

Sarah Bryer, Washington, D.C.

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The writer is executive director of the National Juvenile Justice Network.

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