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Faced with a violent killing, a family chooses forgiveness over prison
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)

Cornell Watson/The Guardian

The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers), June 26, 2023
Posted: July 10th, 2023
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jun/26/restorative-...

Alex Fields had not spoken to his nephew in four years. Not since the killing. But when his nephew Donald Fields Jr finally appeared over Zoom from the county jail, Alex Fields was consumed by the moment. Don Jr was charged with the murder of his father, Donald Fields Sr, in 2016. Today was the first step in a long journey that would see a tragedy transformed into a pioneering case of compassion in America's punitive criminal justice system. It marked the first time that restorative justice – the act of resolving crimes through community reconciliation and accountability over traditional punishment – had been used in a homicide case in the state of North Carolina. And probably the first case of its kind in the US. The DA's office forged a new plea deal, which offered Don Jr the opportunity to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter, which could see him sentenced to "time served". The family worked on a new repair agreement, which was 13 points long and had conditions facilitating Don Jr's release. There is increasing evidence that use of restorative justice lowers rates of recidivism. Those who are victims of violence are far more likely to become perpetrators of violent acts later on. "Just as we cannot incarcerate our way out of violence, we cannot reform our way out of mass incarceration without taking on the question of violence," [Danielle Sered] writes. "The context in which violence happens matters, as do the identities and experiences of those involved.”

Note: Danielle Sered is the founder of a Brooklyn-based restorative justice organization Common Justice, which is the first alternative-to-incarceration and victim-service program in the United States that focuses on violent felonies in the adult courts. For further reading, explore her book, Until We Reckon: Violence, Mass Incarceration, and a Road to Repair.


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