Incarceration has been failing for decades as a means for promoting public safety. More often than not, the finger is pointed at the unreformed inmate as the source of that failure. What about those who work in prisons and jails? What responsibility do they bear for promoting real change that reduces crime and restores communities? What difference could they make if they were trained in the basic principles of human relations, business management, and motivational change, not to mention restorative justice?

In this article we share our experience, as longtime developers of restorative practices in a San Francisco County Jail, of the deputized staff who have assisted in bringing about a new vision. We honor the courage of those mavericks, and acknowledge the desire of many more to be a part of that vision. We recognize how a profession that is unavoidably brutal can,...

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