A Cooperative and Caring Legal System

We seek to protect individuals from coercive powers of the government and the marketplace, while affirming our interdependence.

We seek to reform our legal system so that it promotes peacemaking, understanding and respectful and cooperative problem-solving with the overarching goal of restoring people’s dignity, respect and connection with community. Any justice system must embody our highest values of love, caring for each other, and also caring for and protecting both those who have hurt and damaged others, and those who might become subsequent victims of these offenders.

Aware that many people would not be in prison or have committed crimes or been charged, pled guilty or been convicted of crimes were it not for the economic and social systems and structures of oppression and inequality in our society, we seek to build a society based on love and justice as articulated in our New Bottom Line and throughout this document.

To that end, we support the following changes in our legal system and training:

  1. Recognizing that law schools currently train lawyers to be adversarial, to hide the truth and manipulate the system to advance their own side and cause without regard to the truth of the needs of the individuals involved, society as a whole, or the planet, we will seek a fundamental change in legal education such that lawyers are trained in ethical thinking, compassionate and empathic ways of understanding human behavior, and psychological sophistication. Rather than prioritize winning, law students should be taught to see themselves as peacemakers and healers of a broken society.
  2. In the criminal justice system, we will give priority to restorative justice aimed at: (i) repairing the social damage to trust and a sense of security for people in which the offense took place, (ii) repairing personal damage done by individual criminals and corporate criminals, (iii) fostering reconciliation and forgiveness, and (iv) seeking rehabilitation and transformation of those in prison rather than prioritize inordinate punishment.
  3. We will seek a change in the criminal justice system so that all non-violent crimes and crimes motivated by people’s needs for security are re-directed to restorative justice as outlined above.
  4. We shall seek a transformation of the penal system, including the training of prison guards to be compassionate. Management of prisons should be supervised by panels of compassionate psychologists and clergy who are empowered to hire and fire all prison personnel according to their capacity to demonstrate this compassion on a daily way in the prisons. Prisons must train inmates with skills capable of getting them employment, and connect them with halfway houses that provide financial and emotional support for newly released prisoners in the first year after their sentence has been served, connect them with employment and financial resources to feed and house them, and therapeutic and spiritual support to make their re-entry gentle and supportive.
  5. In the domestic arena, both family courts and child protective services, we seek compassionate resolution of family disputes and challenges so that families experience an environment where their needs for connection with family members, care for the well-being of all members, and the engendering of healthy parent-child relationships are promoted and encouraged, and where parents and others receive adequate support and guidance as to how to improve their parenting capacities with empathy and compassion rather than with coercion.
  6. In the area of tort law, we shall seek repair for the damage done and appropriately structured re-workings of any corporate, medical, government or other institutional systems so that future harm is minimized as much as possible. We shall create a public fund so that anyone injured in any tragic accident has his/her needs for adequate support and long-term care met. We shall support a process that recognizes the fallibility of human beings so that doctors or others who have accidentally caused harm are supported to admit their mistake so proper procedures and training can be implemented.
  7. We seek to ban all forms of spying by governments and corporations on anyone not reasonably believed to be a spy of an enemy country or a terrorist operative. In cases where there is reason to believe that someone is actually spying for an enemy or corporate financial gain, in that case, prior to any such spying, a panel of civil libertarian activists shall determine if the suspected spy fits one of those two categories. We oppose any invasion of our privacy, and recognizing how this information can be used to manipulate or control us, we oppose the accumulation of detailed information about our political, economic, social, and consumer behaviors by governments or corporations.
  8. We will reward, rather than punish whistleblowers.
  9. We seek to decriminalize personal behavior that does not hurt other human beings and, contrary to our current culture, we will promote a culture that honors those who extend care to others.

Read on to #9, Ending Racism