Mission and Core Values
Our work is informed by a commitment to the following values:
- Government accountability and transparency
- The autonomy and right to self determination of individuals
- Community accountability
- Anti-oppression (including de-colonizing practices)
We envision, and will work towards, a non-carceral, accountable and just society that promotes government responsibility, community accountability and care for all members of society and the resolution of conflicts and social harms without resorting to exclusion and punishment.
We will promote structural equality, de-colonization, abolitionism, decarceration, decriminalization and transformative justice. To further these principles and objectives, we will engage in public education , training, and directed advocacy. We will challenge structural inequalities that ensure that the most marginalized people are put in carceral spaces including prisons; psychiatric institutions, immigration and detention facilities and institutions for people with disabilities. We will commit to engaging with individuals and communities who are traditionally the most marginalized, and work to include them in meaningful decision-making practices. We will engage in partnerships with a diversity of communities and organizations, and these partnerships will be informed by and in furtherance of our mission and core values. We will provide services for people in contact with the criminal justice system and maintain a commitment to conflict resolution in both our external activities and internal work.
What is Abolitionism?
The abolitionist movement is diverse, reflecting many different understandings and approaches. We approach abolitionism from a standpoint that says no to punishment and exclusionary practices. Our abolitionist stance rejects the notions of deterrence and retribution, recognizing them as harmful and ineffective ways of resolving conflicts or producing community safety. Abolition calls on us to view incarceration as the outcome of systemic failures (both structural and biographical), rather than a desirable endpoint of a justice system. Our approach to abolitionism promotes accountability and personal and societal responsibility outside of a framework of retribution and exclusion, and actively challenges the taken-for-granted or presumptive inevitability of carceral systems of control.
What is Transformative Justice?
Our mission is informed by a commitment to transformative justice, based on the work of Rittenhouse founder Ruth Morris. Transformative justice is a perspective that emerged from indigenous justice practices. It focuses on healing, rather than revenge, and considers questions of justice and injustice in relation to both interpersonal and social-structural issues. Transformative Justice is as concerned the promotion of just processes as well as just outcomes, and assumes that the two are inherently linked. A transformative approach views conflict as an opportunity to work with affected parties and communities to address underlying sources of harm, and to transform those conditions. It assumes that the people most affected by conflict should be directly involved in processes of resolution and justice, to the greatest extent possible. Transformative Justice recognizes the importance of accountability and responsibility, both for individuals and for organizations involved in justice work. It seeks non-exclusionary outcomes that maintain relationships between people and communities.