Sylvia Clute is a self-described “legal system innovator” and “social justice change agent”. Her bona fides and honors are extensive. She is the author of several books. Her new book “Unitive Justice – “Bending the Arc of Justice Towards Love” – is due out soon. She has made it her life’s mission to push for a shift from a punitive justice system to a unitive one. She is leading the first Unitive Justice International Conference October, 2 – 4, 2023 in Richmond, Va.
Sara Daves is a manifest and purpose coach and author who was determined to find her path and purpose after the loss of her son. She witnessed a broken justice system first hand when her son Trey was forced to plead guilty to a crime he did not commit only to pass away just six weeks after his release. Sara committed herself to “helping others learn to create strong, loving relationships with themselves and reclaim their lives from trauma and the broken social systems that perpetuate painful cycles.”
Our conversation ranges from defining unitive justice, how and why it works, a for-profit prison system that perpetuates itself, and Sara’s work in Uganda where she helped build the first unitive justice school named after her son, Trey.
A brief description of unitive justice vs. punitive justice:
Unitive justice and punitive justice are two distinct approaches to the concept of justice, each with its own principles and goals.
Unitive justice, also known as restorative justice focuses on repairing the harm caused by a wrongdoing and restoring relationships between individuals or communities. The primary emphasis is on healing, reconciliation, and addressing the underlying causes of the conflict or harm. Unitive justice seeks to involve all stakeholders, including the victim, offender, and community, in a collaborative process to find solutions that address the harm and prevent future incidents.
Punitive justice, also known as retributive justice, is the traditional approach to justice that focuses on punishing offenders for their wrongdoing as a means of retribution and deterrence. The primary goal of punitive justice is to impose penalties that are proportionate to the offense committed, with the intention of providing a sense of justice to victims and deterring potential offenders.
Unitive justice prioritizes healing, reconciliation, and the restoration of relationships, whereas punitive justice emphasizes punishment as a means of retribution and deterrence.