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Abstract

In August of 2017, a new court called the North Lawndale Restorative Justice Community Court (NLRJCC) opened in North Lawndale, Chicago. Unlike traditional criminal courts, the NLRJCC is predicated on the theory of restorative justice, which is a philosophy for repairing harm that seeks to rehabilitate the offender while reconciling them to their victim and the community. Using a combination of participation, ethnography, stakeholder interviews, and document review, this thesis argues that the NLRJCC is challenging our country’s inequitable social order, and the criminal justice system that upholds it. As the NLRJCC is demonstrating, justice need not be what it has always been — if we have the courage and willingness to think differently.

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