Our Beliefs & Approach:
Restorative Action Alliance, Inc., is passionate about addressing two categories of harm while honoring the humanity of every person and seeking real solutions to help people and communities thrive. Together, we work to address:
1) Intimate and gender-based violence:
- sexual harassment
- sexual abuse
- sexual exploitation
- rape and assault
- other types of intimate harm
2) Ineffective approaches that our criminal legal system utilizes to address sexual harm:
- conviction registries (public or private), community notification, and shaming
- lengthy & mandatory minimum sentences
- overreaching and punitive probation and parole practices
- civil commitment and solitary confinement
- coercive mental health treatment
- proximity and housing restrictions (banishment laws)
- retroactively applied punishment and restriction to liberty interests
- lack of survivor input in the context of accountability
Rape, sexual abuse, and other harms can be extremely damaging. The objectives of holding people accountable for those offenses and preventing them in the first place are of paramount importance.
Unfortunately, our nation's current collective approach to addressing sexual violence and intimate harm does neither of those things, and actually undermines our ability to meaningfully hold people accountable. Our adversarial criminal legal system discourages people from taking real responsibility and often ignores the voices of victims who are looking for healing and hope. We divert an enormous amount of resources and attention into systems of continuous punishment for people who have already served their sentence – with no public safety benefit, while cases of sexual abuse and rape routinely go uninvestigated or unsolved.
The impulse to “do something” is understandable, but the research clearly shows that perpetual punishment mechanisms are not effective at producing public safety. Most people on sex offense registries do not re-offend, and other models of post-incarceration re-entry have been demonstrated to be more effective at keeping people crime-free. Further, research supports the notion that aggressive policies such as community notification and housing banishment laws actually increase rates of re-offending.
While these schemes are ineffective at best, they remain our country's almost exclusive response to preventing sexual harm, despite no evidence they protect anyone - and ample evidence that leads to extensive collateral consequences making our communities less safe. We spend millions of dollars after harm has occurred, and very little in preventing it before it happens.
Our current policies force people into homelessness, strip them of their support systems, create barriers to employment, and stigmatize them for life. They disproportionately affect already marginalized communities and drain resources from programs and services that help people who have experienced harm to thrive. We see this state-mandated violence as a human rights issue. Current policy and practice make the clear choice to weaponize the pain of survivors for the carceral state while ignoring their needs.
RAA supports policies that meaningfully invest our resources into practices such as restorative and transformative justice, survivor services, and primary prevention - things that will actually produce public safety, as opposed to creating a false sense of security.
We also support policies and laws that hold people accountable for harm, and that help returning citizens to live successful and law-abiding lives. To the extent that someone who has caused harm succeeds after they have been held accountable, we all succeed.
Our aim is to work with policymakers, professionals, educators, and the public to effect change. And, when civil liberties and constitutional rights are infringed upon, our organization will seek to take action through litigation.
Simply stated, our laws and policies in this domain are a failure. They perpetuate harm, are proven to be ineffective, and do not address the actual problems we all desperately need to solve.
Restorative Action Alliance was founded as a 501c(4) non-partisan, social welfare organization in 2020 to combine the efforts of several organized groups of anti-carceral survivors, individuals impacted by the criminal legal system, and restorative justice advocates from New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. All who believe in our mission are welcome to join our cause, regardless of geographic location. Together, we can reduce harm to create a better, safer world where every person has a chance to thrive. Your non-tax deductible membership contribution gives us the needed flexibility to pursue actions around our most pressing priorities, including lobbying.
Restorative Action Foundation (RAF), the complementary foundation of Restorative Action Alliance, allows for tax-deductible contributions to support our education, legal, and litigation activities. Contributions to RAF can be made here.
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