Deanna Van Buren designs restorative justice centers that, instead of taking the punitive approach used by a system focused on mass incarceration, treat crime as a breach of relationships and justice as a process where all stakeholders come together to repair that breach. "Imagine a world without prisons," Van Buren says. "And join me in creating all the things that we could build instead."


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  • Margaret Thompson

    Prisons are a major part of the corporate economy in the States. It "pays" to have people in prison.Deanna's vision is not just about a world without prisons but about a tidal change in the corporate stranglehold over the prison "economy".

  • RUBY


  • Colleen Flanagan

    Taking social justice to communities is a vital step in actualizing peace and safety in our communities. Amen.

  • Rachael Denny

    The world is full of possibilities...

  • Patrick Watters

    Sadly, seems only likely to be embraced in “blue” areas of the country, if at all? Nonetheless wholly (holy) worthy of pursuing. }:- a.m.

  • Ken Sponagle

    As a retired teacher, I applaud you for being a practical visionary who makes dreams come true. I live in Florida and see this state teetering on becoming an autocratically-ruled state with none of the compassion you display. How can our like-minded social leaders contact you to get these concepts enacted?

  • Nona Simons

    I am inspired by the idea of creating centers in buildings for restorative justice programs and centers on wheels to help bring about justice and uplift people who have been abused, imprisoned for years, at risk youth and more. Recently, I met some people on a train going from the bay area to Sacramento. I started up a conversation with one elderly gentleman. We were joined by a middle class guy and a man who had just been released from prison. He was in prison for 20+ years. He was given barely enough money to subsist for a short time until he could settle into a new life. He was going to a special training program for ex-convicts. He had to go there on his own. He had found religion in jail and wanted to turn his life around. The young man had been jailed for drug use and gave him hints of how to survive in this new setting. The ex-prisoner asked for directions to the program in San Francisco, but he didn't know how to get there. The young man said he would help the man find his way to the rehab. program. The young man said that the ex-prisoner would have to contend with other ex-prisoners who were not improving and would probably end up back in jail. This ex-prisoner was lucky; he had some help from a man on a train after getting out of jail. Other ex-prisoners are not so lucky; upon release, there are not given any help from the prison "powers that be" or staff. After years in prison, they enter a world that has changed and they aren't shown all the new things they will have to learn, just to survive. And we wonder why there is a high rate of recidivism! With restorative justice, I believe that men like the ex-prisoner I met, would get the help they need to adjust to living in a new world. Your video gave me hope that this possible.

  • Nick Heap

    A beautiful and inspiring example of thoughtful and humble leadership. Deanna listened to marginalised people and used their ideas with them to create elegant solutions to endemic violence and mass incarceration. Brilliant!

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  • Become inspired by the many visions of spaces for restoration coming alive in Oakland at  Designing Justice.
  • Learn more about Center for Court Innovation and their work bringing Native American forms of peacemaking into the US justice system.
  • Imagine a space that makes possible restoration of relationships, both personal and social in your neighborhood. Take a step toward making that vision come to life.

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