By engaging communities in the design and development of new buildings that integrate restorative justice/economics, education and reentry housing, DJDS counters prevailing policies and societal inequities evident in the dominant architectural models of courthouses and prisons.
Restorative justice seeks to restore and repair the people and relationships impacted by crime by understanding victims’ needs and holding offenders accountable in a way that meets these needs. It brings victims and offenders together for face-to-face meetings to discuss impacts, needs, and, when appropriate, ways to repair damages. Thousands of these processes operate in the US, Canada, and Europe, with many dialogues occurring in prisons when the offender is incarcerated and the crimes have been violent. Research suggests that these encounters contribute to increased empathy, improved restitution completion, and reduced offending.
Rather than focused on punishment, this philosophical approach to justice relies on values such as respect, participation, trust, accountability, and healing. Just as the principles and values of our punitive approach to justice manifest in our current justice architectural typologies, the philosophies of a restorative model can inform the design of justice spaces in a radically different way.
At DJ+DS our work is informed by these values and beliefs. Using the philosophy of restorative justice we design physical environments in such a way that the environmental design supports the programs which occur within the space.
This concern for the design of the spaces in which restorative justice occurs is new but important. As a localized, place-based criminal, cultural, and civic approach, restorative justice practices require local, flexible and immediately available meeting places. It requires that we support the development of new types of housing and resources centers to address the root causes of mass incarceration.
As we seek to make the transition from a punitive model of justice to a restorative system tools are required to inspire dialogue, education and strategize on the future we are working to create. DJ+DS creates digital and analogue tools and curriculum to fuel this change.
We believe that good design influences how we feel and act. With our partners and stakeholders, we harness the power of the built environment support our emotional and physiological well-being.