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Corrections, Illegal Employment of Immigrants, Immigrants, Jails, Local Foods, Prison Reform, Prisons, Prison Programs, Reentry, Restorative Justice, Restorative Sentences, Sentences, Sentencing


This essay proposes the adoption of a three-part framework to effectuate fundamental changes in conventional sentencing and correctional constructs, making restorative justice a mainstay of sentencing and correctional systems. First, federal, state, and local governments would authorize the imposition of what would be – in name, purpose, and content – “restorative sentences.” The growing, processing, and distribution of locally grown foods in low-income neighborhoods particularly afflicted by crime is an example of what could become a prevalent restorative sentence. The essay outlines a number of steps to be undertaken by jurisdictions in order to realize the goals of restorative sentencing.

The second part of the framework would entail the emplacement of “restorative-justice programming” in prisons and jails, programs that could be linked to the restorative-sentencing structures within communities. For example, prisoners working in a prison horticultural program could grow trees and bushes that could then be planted in low-income neighborhoods by individuals serving restorative sentences. The essay identifies steps to be taken so that restorative-justice programming fulfills its potential as an integral part of a holistic, rather than compartmentalized, system of correctional programming.

The establishment of specialized reentry-employment programs to secure jobs for those released inmates who have successfully completed their service in a restorative-justice work program is the final component of the proposed three-part framework for sentences and integrated correctional programming with a restorative-justice focus. To open up jobs for the inmate graduates of restorative-justice work programs, the essay proposes the taking of a likely controversial step – the development and implementation of plans to employ the graduates in jobs currently performed by individuals who are illegally in the country or, even if authorized residents, are working in contravention of legal restrictions on their employment.