Sujatha Baliga, “the nation’s foremost expert on restorative justice,” has been aware of Richard’s case from the beginning. She doesn’t, however, try to get in touch with Jasmine. “I’m not here to peddle restorative justice,” Sujatha says. If she is needed, they will call her. Sometimes, the Alameda County Court uses restorative justice as “an alternative to criminal court for juveniles.” Meetings are called between the offender and the victim, their families and legal teams, and they all talk about the crime, and “then make a plan for how the harm can be repaired.” There are “measurable benchmarks” for the offender, and if they are met, “no criminal charges are ever filed.”
Slater implies that perhaps Sujatha should “peddle” restorative justice. Like Sasha’s nonbinary identity, visibility is the key to acceptance, and society cannot benefit from restorative justice if they aren’t aware it exists. Furthermore, the deputy DA doesn’t even bother talking to Richard, so it seems unlikely that they would contact Sujatha on Richard’s behalf to keep him out of prison. The institutionalized racism of the criminal justice system works to imprison young black men like Richard, not rehabilitate them.
Restorative justice “dispenses with punitiveness for its own sake,” and instead “produces an outcome that will be more healing for everyone involved.” Sujatha is not hopeful that Richard will be offered restorative justice “given the severity of the harm to Sasha,” and she finds it disappointing. “They are perfect candidates for this dialogue,” Sujatha claims. Sasha, Richard, and their families “are such gorgeously enlightened, beautiful people.”
Richard and Sasha are perfect candidates for restorative justice. The justice system, however, is intent on sending Richard to prison, and the very legal process that is supposed to hold him accountable for his actions actually prohibits his ability to apologize and achieve full redemption and forgiveness.