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Justice That Transforms (Volume One)

WN: I’m pleased to add this page about a book produced September 2018. It is of my writings on Restorative Justice over the years, including by a few contributors. I have at least as much material again, which will become Volume 2 of?… Maybe another to follow after Volume 2.

Below is the Preface, and a Foreword, that explain about the book, and a Table of Contents. You may check it out at Justice That Transforms Cdn, or Justice That Transforms US.

I’ll add reviews, etc., (hopefully) in due time. If you order the book, a review on Amazon and sent to me for possible posting would be great! Thanks.


My good friend and scholar, Ron Dart, proposed that I pull together my Restorative Justice writings, to publish them on Amazon and Kindle, at least. Since I had done a few publications that way (only one written by me, though I had written Forewords each time), I acted on the idea. I’ve asked Ron Dart to write the Foreword. He is also a prolific author and avid educator.

Two chapters were each time as indicated co-authored (thanks Hugh Kirkegaard and Pierre Allard). One was by Dr. C.F.D. Moule who years ago granted me permission to reprint it. It was powerful for me in my future work.

Throughout most of the nineties I worked in the Restorative Justice field for Mennonite Central Committee Canada, that granted me a high perch from which to observe the increasing Canadian and worldwide awareness of this emerging phenomenon.

That decade was a kind of spreading-wings time of creating awareness, honing theory, delivering practice, and producing research. Criminal justice jurisdictions began encountering Restorative Justice in North America and worldwide. Many publications started emerging alongside beginnings of evidence-based research on impacts of this often-claimed “paradigm shift” in dealing with perpetrators and people who were offended against. Whole conferences and umbrella organizations were organized and formed, to promote Restorative Justice and share expertise, the term “best practices” often employed.

Programs in many parts of the world began cross-pollinating as attempts at supplying precise definition and standards of practice proliferated. Institutions of higher learning commenced teaching it; governments started embracing and funding it; and critics, in particular from the “victim” community, were analysing and at times condemning it as pro-offender and naïve. Some even accused it of being nothing more than “compulsory compassion” foisted on “victims” that left them further wounded, “justice” even perhaps more denied while perpetrators were all but “let off the hook”. Its sheer mushrooming across the planet within mere decades precluded “controls” that might have headed off some of the at times legitimate attacks. But crime victim communities (“victim” a term that rightly should be for the most part displaced in favour of “those whom crime impacts” or the like) embraced Restorative Justice as well. Wilma Derksen in Canada early on affirmed it, amongst many others, and she parlayed it into a creative force for those harmed by crime across Canada and wider afield. She however ever held Restorative Justice practitioners and theorists to account to never forget those harmed by crime. A rare honour for Wilma was her family’s story told in inimitable style by Malcolm Gladwell in David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.

I had the (at-the-time unknown) privilege of stumbling upon this early seeding through accepting an assignment in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada with Mennonite Central Committee Ontario as Director of the two-year-old V.O.R.P. – Victim Offender Reconciliation Project (only) – acknowledging its tentative nature. It later became a “Program”, and rightly “mediation” replaced “reconciliation” as less religiously and even teleologically charged. “Compulsory” for those harmed by crime however never – at least not in intent of practice from the outset in my involvement then and subsequently with early and most practitioners and theorists over the decades.

As to seeding: an early Restorative Justice friend and colleague Dave Worth of “Elmira Case” fame (see first chapter), in those formative years of promoting Restorative Justice repeatedly drew on Clarence Jordan of Koinonia Farm, Georgia,  and author of Cotton Patch Gospel, to explain that

If a farmer wanted to encourage others to try out new seed, he’d not go out and rent a lecture hall to get them in, he’d plant a “demonstration plot” right in the main crossroads and let everyone see for themselves how well the seed produced!

 Dave was one of those farmers; and eventually at the crossroads of the criminal justice world, the Restorative Justice harvest of justice became renowned for its peacemaking.

A classic biblical text in this regard reads:

When peacemakers plant seeds of peace, they will harvest justice (James 3:18, CEV).

 The first chapter touches briefly more on the early years.

 My wife Esther and I had an amazing eight-week experience in Rwanda May 18 to July 12, 2018. We were exposed to much about Rwanda’s post-genocide (1994) Restorative Justice/reconciliation journey. We were left with “impressions” when we departed, with no particular authority gained to assess realities there. While there I wrote a series of “Dispatches” about our reconciliation learning. They may be accessed here.

There will be at least a second collected volume of writings. Why publish these now? Because I can might be as good an answer! Because as well they may be of historical interest. And because they give opportunity to put “out there” the continued joy and prospect of this peacemaking work.

These writings were first gathered, edited, and uploaded onto a website, project of my retirement years, from 2014 onwards. They obviously are repetitious: Copy and Paste commands were used. Other than copy-editing, for the most part they are included as were. Most contain Bibliographies; no general Bibliography though at the end of the book.

If you purchase the printed book and wish to pursue the blue highlights mostly in the introductions to each chapter, you may of course also purchase the Kindle ereader version (Cdn here; US here) that enables the highlights as clickables, and also renders all the footnotes that way, and other goodies such as x-ray as well. Or you may for free seek out whichever material on the website. I cannot vouch for all the blue highlights working. URL addresses do sometimes change. The reader may therefore need to do (if wished) additional sleuthing…

And the usual disclaimer: all errors I own!

— Wayne Northey, with gratitude and joy for this lifelong journey, September 2018


There has been, sadly so, a predictable tendency within the historic Western tradition to read, interpret and apply the Bible within the crime and punishment, justice ethos in a retributive manner: an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, Shylockian pound of flesh dominating the day, fair Portia banished from the stage.  A rather narrow and reductionist read of the Hebrew canon (Old Testament) has dominated and, in an imperial sort of way, colonized alternate notions of both justice and mercy that can equally be found in the Old Testament, Apocrypha and New Testament. The Jewish prophets and the Sermon on the Mount are two needful portals and correctives to a one-dimensional and reactionary read of the Bible.

There has also been a predictable tendency within the much longer historic Western and Christian tradition to develop, in greater depth and detail, via legal systems and jurisprudence, more finely tuned notions of Retributive Justice. We might ask why this single-vision approach to justice has so come to dominate and what other options might be mined within both the Bible and the Christian Tradition that question and doubt the reigning monarch of Retributive Justice? The answer to such a nagging question can be aptly and amply answered, from a variety of angles, in this superb book by Wayne Northey.

Each of the in-depth and detailed chapters in this must-read beauty of a tome highlight, in not-to-be missed insights, how and why the ideology of Retributive Justice has dominated, the consequence of such a reality, and why Restorative Justice has not really been tried and found wanting.

Wayne, to his credit, has spent many a decade in the restorative trenches (he was there at the beginning many a decade ago) and he tells a worthy tale about the need to, Phoenix-like, resurrect the Restorative Justice tradition. There has been a tendency to pit the liberal rehabilitative approach against the more conservative retributive approach, but the 3rd way of Restorative Justice has many a possibility worth the fuller probing. The genius of the book is the way Wayne both probes ever deeper and thinks ever wider and fuller about these timely and timeless issues. Again, I might add that Wayne’s thinking and writing emerge from decades of being in the thick of the fray and the diverse articles embody such a reality.

The fact that the Restorative Justice position has often been marginalized, misunderstood or caricatured as a sort of naïve idealism is found wanting in Wayne’s animated and vigorous defense of Restorative Justice. I might add that beyond the importance of Restorative Justice is the broader notion of Transformative Justice that Wayne has often pondered. I have been fortunate, over the decades, to have had Wayne lecture in my classes in Philosophy of Law and other classes on Restorative/Transformative Justice. Students have raised tough questions about both positions and Wayne has answered each question admirably, well, charitably and wisely. This book does much the same but in a more in-depth way and manner.

The fact that Wayne engages Biblical exegetes’ questionable read of the Bible when applied to justice, the way the Western Tradition has erred in significant ways in this area, and how significant approaches by the Evangelical and Reformed Christian tribes have only seen with one eye on this issue are held up for serious scrutiny by Wayne in this packed and challenging bounty of a book. Wayne has lived in the midst of these issues at the Biblical, Christian Tradition and contemporary Evangelical and Reformed levels. He knows the nuances and subtleties but he is also acutely aware of how, time and again, Retributive Justice dominates the day (and the practical implications of it). There is a unique sense in which Wayne (although probably not seeing himself as such) comes as prophetic voice to the establishment and status quo Sanhedrin and dares to question their misread of the Bible and Christian Tradition. Again a careful read of this well-crafted book will, if read discerningly, reveal much that is often, tragically, ignored in how Christians interpret the Dostoevskian crime and punishment dilemma.

I have gently urged Wayne, over the years, to compile and thread together many of the articles he has written on Restorative Justice (and they are legion). I have no doubt that those who read and inwardly digest the articles chosen by Wayne for this unique collection and book will be generously rewarded by each read and reread. Certainly the way Wayne immerses the curious reader in the trying issues will refocus the way justice is often defined and understood. I do, therefore, heartily recommend this exceptional book to the reader with an open mind: their understanding of justice may never be the same again.

I might add, by way of conclusion, that George Grant’s English Speaking Justice will walk the interested yet further down the philosophic trail that Wayne (and peers) are well on.

Amor Vincit Omnia Ron Dart Department of Political Science, Philosophy and Religious Studies, University of the Fraser Valley

Volume One

Table of Contents

New Paradigm of Justice 

Restorative Justice Then, Now and A Dream

Presentation on Spirituality of Penal Abolition, ICOPA IX, May, 2000

Punishment and Retribution: An Attempt to Delimit Their Scope in New Testament Thought

Homo Homini Ubuntu

Spirituality Evaluation of Restorative Justice, Sixth International Conference on Restorative Justice, “Best Practices in Restorative Justice”, Vancouver, June 4, 2003

Restorative Reintegration, Sixth International Conference on Restorative Justice, “Best Practices in Restorative Justice”, Vancouver, June 1, 2003

Restorative Justice and Prison Visitation

Restorative Justice Spirituality

Not Enough!” and International Restorative Justice: COV&R Presentation, May 31 – June 4, 2006, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Is There A Place For Dreaming?: Restorative Justice and International State Conflict

Restorative Justice Stories – MCCC 50th Anniversary, December 14, 2013

The Sex Offender as Scapegoat: Vigilante Violence and a Faith Community Response

Transformative Justice Vision and Spirituality

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