Reflections from a techie seeking justice

picture of notes on flip chart paperOk, so, I confess. I’m not really a techie. I think I would more accurately describe myself as a groupie to techies, or a tag-a-long little sister to techies. I think tech stuff is super cool. I really like learning about it, and talking about it, and brainstorming ways to harness technology for the greater good. Even though I’m sort of posing, I have the privilege of attending the Safety Net Training of Trainers sponsored by NNEDV this week. A few of our conversations and workshops center on technology used to hold aggressors accountable, as tools of a justice system, and in monitoring the actions of convicted offenders. There’s also been a good deal of discussion on building safe online communities, using technology to educate, advocate, and build safe spaces.

I’ve met some amazing folks doing fantastic work from across the country. Some are techies, some are tag-a-longs (like me), and some are self-proclaimed luddites trying to get a grip on this wireless world. In the course of these discussions, I shared some of my recent struggles with understanding justice through the lens of a feminist activist.

One bright, informed co-participant shared some resources for exploring this issue further. She shared that she’s learned a lot and explored the restorative justice approaches within tribal communities. These approaches are based on community accountability to work with aggressors to correct the aggression and wholly supporting the safety and healing of any community member surviving after violence. She mused that based on what she remembered, attempts at replication of these systems outside of a tribal setting didn’t go very well. The culture didn’t seem to support this departure from “law and order” justice systems.

I’m certainly going to start doing some reading based on restorative justice in tribal communities. I may also check out a book on community healing after apartheid in South Africa: A Human Being Died That Night. My wise tablemate said she hadn’t read it yet, and was a little scared to do so. However, she expressed that what she’d heard about it fit well with my reflections of late.