Just Justice: How the Navajo Nation Does It

The Navajo Nation has about 28,000 criminal cases in its court system each year, and has prison space for only 220 people at any given time.

In most cases respected leaders in the community meet with the accused and their victims with the intent of bringing about healing in the relationship.

Family members of the accused also join in, as it is assumed in Navajo culture that they share responsibility for the actions and should help find solutions.

Whereas Western jurisprudence is typically about deciding what happened, who did it, and how they should be punished for their actions, the Navajos are concerned about "the effect of what happened. Who got hurt? What do they feel about it? What can be done to repair the harm?"

This news item appeared in the 5/3/05 issue of the CHRISTIAN CENTURY.

 

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