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5. What about dangerous, violent individuals? Does locking them up make us safer?

Even in the rare cases where a young person has committed serious harm to another, our belief is that the appropriate response should focus on rehabilitation and reconciliation rather than punishment. Young people who cause harm often do so because they themselves have been hurt in some way. In these instances, the emphasis should be on creating processes of healing and reintegration rather than rather than condemning them to the long-term impacts and social stigma of incarceration. When we put people in cages, it isolates them, separates them from their families, exposes them to abuse and humiliation, disrupts their education and/or employment, and does nothing to prevent future harm. Instead, there are alternative models of transformative and restorative justice that prioritize reconciliation and prevention.

One of the most common misconceptions in our society is that individuals in jail or prison are dangerous. In truth, many of those incarcerated are poor Black, Indigenous, and People of Color who have been targeted by biased policing or pushed into desperate circumstances, leading them to engage in criminal behavior out of necessity.

Incarcerating people does not make us safer and we need to invest in alternative ways to repair harm and break the cycle of poverty in our communities. Jails and prisons do not prevent harm, and we need to look beyond these punitive measures to promote true healing and justice.

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