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Dig deeper into healing justice: Read, watch, and get involved

Broken on All sides cover

AFSC staff offer suggestions on what to read and watch to learn more about healing justice issues.

Books and websites

The power of truth and reconciliation

The over-arching theme in the summer 2013 issue of Quaker Action is the belief that when people who have been in conflict tell their truths, share their pain, and seek reconciliation, real healing can take place. Much of this healing work, both in the U.S. and internationally, uses some form of circle process.

In “Peacemaking Circles: From Crime to Community,” a 2003 book from Living Justice Press, Kay Pranis, Mark Wedge, and Barry Stuart provide a valuable guide to the deep origins of circles and to their power.

Truth and reconciliation commissions are also an important vehicle for bringing forth healing truths. To follow the progress of the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, visit

For an insightful review of 60 truth commissions and their impacts, see Priscilla Hayner’s “Unspeakable Truths: Transitional Justice and the Challenge of Truth Commissions,” published by Routledge in 2011.

For a personal view of trauma-healing work in Burundi and its roots in traditional healing practices, read David Niyonzima’s “Unlocking Horns,” published in 2001 by Barclay Press. An interview with David was recently featured on AFSC’s Acting in Faith blog.

For in-depth information on the Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities (HROC) program, visit the African Great Lakes Initiative website

Restorative justice

For some thoughtful commentary on the problems of the criminal justice system and the reason why restorative justice is a viable alternative, watch this short lecture from Natalie DeFreitas called Rethinking the Impact of Traditional Justice.

For more restorative justice resources, see the website Restorative Justice for All. For an excellent clearinghouse of information and resources on restorative justice around the world, visit Restorative Justice Online.


To learn about AFSC's work on restorative justice and reconciliation, see our reconciliation and healing page

Experiences of prisoners 

For stories of healing from men in prison and those returning to the community, visit AFSC’s Friend of a Friend web page. The memoir of Friend of a Friend co-founder Eddie “Marshall” Conway, “Marshall Law,” written with AFSC’s Dominque Stevenson and published in 2011 by AK Press, recounts his commitment to organizing for peace and justice—both on the streets as a Black Panther and during his more than 40 years of incarceration. 

Another valuable source for exploring Quaker peacemaking with prisoners is the Alternatives to Violence (AVP) website at AVP, initiated by Quakers, was founded in and developed from the lived experiences of prisoners. It has grown into an international movement both inside and outside of prisons. 

A new justice paradigm

“Beyond Prisons,” published by Fortress Press in 2006 and co-authored by Laura Magnani and Harmon Wray, makes a convincing argument for why we need to start from scratch to envision a more just alternative to the justice system in the U.S.

Sylvia Clute’s 2010 book “Beyond Vengeance, Beyond Duality: A Call for a Compassionate Revolution,” published by Hampton Roads, challenges the punitive approach to justice and offers a “unitive” approach that recognizes the oneness of all life.

"The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," published in 2010 and written by Michelle Alexander, has changed the national conversation on criminal justice and inspired thousands of people to get involved in the movement to end mass incarceration.


Host a film screening

Screening one of these excellent new documentary films is a great way to share your concern about prisons with friends and colleagues.

Broken on All Sides

Lawyer Matthew Pillischer’s “Broken on All Sides” grew from an exploration of prison overcrowding in Philadelphia to a sweeping examination of race and mass incarceration in the U.S.

The House I Live In

Eugene Jarecki’s “The House I Live In” is a heart-wrenching account of the “war on drugs” and its impact on poor communities.

Herman's House

Angad Bhalla’s “Herman’s House” reveals both the injustice of solitary confinement and the transformative power of art. 

Marc Mauer and Sabrina Jones: The Graphic Retelling of Race to Incarcerate

In this 15 minute video interview, author Marc Mauer of the Sentencing Project and artist Sabrina Jones talk about the illistrated version of "Race to Incarcerate" and what is driving mass incarceration in the United States.

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