Discussing alternatives to criminal justice

Will McMahon
Tuesday, 20 October 2015

As part of the Justice Matters project we asked people to tell us what they would build in place of criminal justice to deal with the social harms that affect society.

This is a challenging subject. It is challenging because it is about rethinking the configuration of policy and practice – for instance in housing, education, health, social security and employment – so that many current criminal justice responses are not required at all.

We received a number of insightful pieces with a suitably broad set of ideas and initiatives. Discussing alternatives to criminal justice presents contributions which challenge current attitudes towards policy formulation and the social structures that perpetuate them.

For the Centre, this is the beginning of a debate and we thank our contributors for kicking off what is a complex and difficult discussion with some suitably brief but challenging pieces. Being able to imagine a society without prison walls can be difficult enough, but applying our minds to what might prevent and respond to the social harms society faces without criminal justice is a really difficult, but necessary task.

We want to continue the discussion and encourage readers to think about what they would build to replace the criminal justice reflex to social harm. We welcome contributions short or long on this theme and will publish the next set of contributions in 2016.