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Series on the Language of Community Justice: Part 2

Fatima Jayoma | Rural Projects Coordinator at SVJI @MNCASA

Last week we started a series on the language of community justice with a discussion of “community accountability.” This week we continue with “transformative justice.” You might notice that some will use community accountability and transformative justice interchangeably, and they do have similar meanings. Both are community-based responses to violence that seek to address immediate needs for justice and the root causes of violence.

Transformative justice involves the person who experienced harm, the person who caused harm, the communities that both are part of, and the larger society that allowed for the harm to occur. Just like community accountability, transformative justice seeks safety and accountability without relying on police, prisons, or other state systems.

The organization GenerationFIVE states the goals of transformative justice as a response to all forms of violence are:

  • Survivor safety, healing, and agency 
  • Accountability and transformation of those who abuse 
  • Community response and accountability 
  • Transformation of the community and social conditions that create and perpetuate violence, i.e. systems of oppression, exploitation, domination, and State violence

Community accountability and transformative justice both allow for a community to think about how they can address violence within their community/larger systems and how they can transform the conditions that allowed for the violence to happen in the first place. Both phrases point to similar reconceptualizations of justice. The keyword is “transform.”

The organization Resource Sharing Project shares that at the heart of transformative justice are a few simple questions:

  • How do we support healing for survivors of violence and those in their communities without causing further harm? 
  • How do we hold contradictory truths – that people are often survivors and perpetrators of violence at the same time – while seeking accountability and an end to the violence? 
  • And how do we create cultures of support and accountability that address the root causes of violence?

Next week we’ll round off this topic with a discussion of “restorative justice.” In the meantime, check out this video on transformative justice by the Barnard Center for Research on Women.

To learn more about transformative justice, check out this list of resources compiled by the Resource Sharing Project.

Stay tuned and let us know in the comments or by emailing svji@mncasa.org if you have any questions!