An interesting article from BBC Scotland today concerning the visit to this country of two American judges. Nothing unusual or out of the ordinary about this you might retort. Cultural and professional exchanges can be numbered in the thousands every single year.
What’s really interesting about this visit is that the judges – Victoria Pratt and Ginger Lerner-Wren have been invited to Scotland by Community Justice Scotland, a publicly funded body, where they are hoping to meet hundreds of people who deal with the Scottish criminal justice system.
The two judges are keen to emphasise that there should be more compassion in the criminal justice system when dealing with offenders. They point to impressive results in the United States – a New York court alone has seen a dramatic decrease of 20% in youth crime and a 10% reduction in crime overall by using radical methods to deal with offenders. One of the judges, Ginger Lerner-Wren established one of the first mental health courts anywhere in the world. The aim of this court (based in Florida) was to promote treatment of offenders as an alternative to traditional forms of punishment. Judge Pratt, on the other hand, specialises in “procedural justice”.
What is procedural justice?
According to the BBC article it means “that if people before the courts perceive they are being treated fairly and with dignity and respect, they’ll come to respect the courts, complete their sentences and be more likely to obey the law.”
Readers of this blog will be aware that in an earlier entry (The Demon Drink), I drew attention to Glasgow Sheriff Court’s Alcohol Court where a difference in approach to crimes involving alcohol and domestic violence is being pioneered. It is in this kind of tradition that the American judges are working.
A link to the article on the BBC website can be found below:
The ‘kindness’ judges turning courts inside out
Two top judges are in Scotland to share expertise on “procedural justice” which encourages respect in court.
A link to the website of Community Justice Scotland can be found below:
Copyright – Seán J Crossan, 12 March 2019