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Sylvia Clute

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Attorney, author, blogger. After several years as a trial attorney, Sylvia Clute became disillusioned with the legal system and began her search for a better way. This led to writing two books, Beyond Vengeance, Beyond Duality: A Call for a Compassionate Revolution, and a novel, Destiny Unveiled. She writes a blog, Monday through Friday. She founded, led and served as an advisor to numerous community and statewide initiatives. A pioneer in legal reform, she spearheaded changes in Virginia's laws relating to women and children. She gives workshops, teaches classes, and has presented to many legal, civic and church organizations. She holds an MA in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, a Juris Doctor from Boston University School of Law, and an MA in Public Administration from the University of California at Berkeley. She lives with her family in Richmond, Virginia.

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SHARE More Sharing        Sunday, July 24, 2011
Unacknowledged Victims of State Executions When the state executes an offender, many people see it as justice done. A harm has been answered with a proportional measure of harm. But for Susannah Sheffer, that is not the end of the matter. Sheffer works closely with survivors of homicide victims and the families of the executed, and has studied the impact of state executions on the attorneys who handle the appeals - the unacknowledged victims of state executions.
(4 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Monday, July 18, 2011
Vengeance: Cutting Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face? When we seek vengeance in response to tyrants who are committing heinous crimes that are on-going, we confront a moral dilemma. Is it better to grant amnesty to the tyrant in return for an end of the crimes being committed or to pursue the perpetrator until he is held accountable for all of the past crimes he has committed, even though this means more innocent people will be harmed before this occurs?
(14 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Friday, July 15, 2011
Is There a Job for Lawyers as Healers of Conflict? U. S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Berger told the American Bar Association in 1984 that lawyers should be healers, not warriors or hired guns. Here is the dilemma for lawyers. The model of justice that seeks healing and restoration instead of punishment or revenge is simple, not complex. It requires no legal degree to become a "facilitator" of the process. So is this a job for lawyers?
(3 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Saturday, March 5, 2011
Selective Conscientious Objection As the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq drag on and the U.S. considers new wars in Arab nations fraught with political unrest, there is a serious debate around war growing at the grassroots level. As our engagement in war has long drawn its moral legitimacy from the blessings many of our religious institutions have given to it, the fact this movement primarily involves churches is of particular importance.
(4 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Saturday, January 15, 2011
Yes, Sarah, Context Does Matter Immediately after the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, there arose a new context in which U.S. political discourse occurs. As previous actions took on a different tenor, Sarah Palin sought to distance her previous actions from the tragic event, claiming they had no bearing on it. The context in which this particular crime occurred was contributed to by Palin, and context does matter.
(3 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Do Poor People Get Equal Justice? The American legal system, in theory, delivers "equal justice under law." But equality implies an inclusiveness that does not exist in this punitive justice structure. Its unequal justice is being exacerbated by the current economic downturn.
(6 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Monday, January 10, 2011
Shooting in Tucson: the Real Answer The Tucson shooting demonstrates how there are always two parties to crime: the actor and the context. We learn from our culture how to be violent. One reason justice is so often flawed is because our legal system ignores the context. Both the individual actor and the systemic context must be considered and held accountable if genuine justice is to be achieved.
(6 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Monday, January 3, 2011
The Moral Dilemma of Military Service On the one hand, the U.S. armed forces are held to the level of individual moral accountability in war set out in Nuremberg Principle IV: you cannot blame your commanders or your government for your immoral acts in wartime. On the other hand, U.S. military personnel are denied the opportunity to make a number of personal moral choices in times of war. These are irreconcilable policies, and some call for consistency.
(5 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Sunday, December 26, 2010
War: What If Christians Took Jesus at His Word? How to reconcile allegiance to the teachings of Jesus Christ with war is a dilemma that has faced Christians since the time of Constantine the Great. For nearly 2,000 years many Christians have resolved the conflict between Christ's teachings and war in favor of war. Are a growing number of Christian churches beginning to reassess how this balance should be struck?
SHARE More Sharing        Tuesday, December 21, 2010
The Close Battle, the Deep Battle or the Winning Battle? In military parlance, the "close battle" is the battle being waged at the moment. The "deep battle" is the fight for hearts and minds. Ret. Gen. Michael Hayden, former CIA Director, says the close battle is the easy one for the U.S. to win. Despite our being the beacon of democracy, we have a hard time when it comes to winning on ideology. This would not be the case if we more frequently addressed human needs.
(8 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Thursday, December 9, 2010
Want to eliminate conflict? Think again! Rio de Janeiro is in the headlines , as a Brazilian military operation seeks to clear a large slum ("favela" in Portugese) of drug traffickers. Military occupation of the area is expected to last at least through May of next year. With guns and military might, the government is seeking to "pacify" the area. There is another way to approach the problem.
Unitive Justice table, From ImagesAttr
(6 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Thursday, December 9, 2010
Incarceration Nation: Restorative Justice is a Better Way With 25% of the world's prisoners, the U.S. is aptly called the incarceration nation. But what about the people behind the staggering figures, the people affected by this incarceration binge? This is the story of one of them, and unfortunately it is not an uncommon story.
(2 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Tuesday, December 7, 2010
New START Treaty: An Issue of Sanity and Morality An arms control treaty with Russia known as New START is awaiting ratification by the U.S. Senate, but the fate of the treaty now hangs by a slender reed. The ratification of the New START treaty is both an issue of sanity and morality, and Senators hearing from their constituents. Please act!
From Images
(32 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Saturday, December 4, 2010
Time for Another Civil Rights Movement? The U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s ended legalized segregation in the South, but it did not end racism and discrimination. In recent decades, one of the most destructive forms of racism seems to be manifesting in conjunction with this country's incarceration binge, and it is hitting the African American community the hardest. Is it time for a new civil rights movement to deal with issues like this?
(2 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Thursday, December 2, 2010
A Mother's Pain: Should It Matter? We hear a lot about criminals and the terrible things they do. We sometimes hear about the pain the victims of crime experience. But we don't hear much about the pain of the offender's family. Should the pain felt by the mother of a "criminal" matter?
(11 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Sunday, November 28, 2010
What Is the Fair Measure of Justice? We are so accustomed to the institution of criminal justice being as it is that we rarely notice it is a system of proportional revenge. This aspect of our legal system is grounded in the ancient measure of an eye for an eye. In the case of the death penalty, for example, one life is literally taken for another, measure for measure. A South African case provides an example of a different measure of justice.
SHARE More Sharing        Friday, November 26, 2010
Inseparable Bedfellows: Crime and Its Context We often to fail to recognize the role that context plays in our patterns of crime and criminal conduct. In fact, if the context were changed, most crime would not happen as it does. For justice to be done, both individual choice and systemic context must be considered and held accountable.
(11 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Tuesday, November 23, 2010
We Must Do Justice Better Our criminal justice system has been broken for a long time. It is defended with the argument that we could do worse. But our silent acceptance of a seriously flawed system extracts an enormous price. It's time to say no, we must do better.
(1 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Saturday, November 13, 2010
Unitive Justice: The Real "Get Tough on Crime" In the political debate that has one politician claiming to be tougher on crime than the next, there is an underlying theme: anyone who is not tough on crime is soft on crime. When, instead of punitive justice, unitive justice is the option, this is far from the truth. Unitive justice is pragmatic and predictable. Its shared community values do not sanction hurting anyone, by anyone. When this standard is applied to everyone,
(3 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Sunday, November 7, 2010
Does the Rule of Law Guarantee Justice? We Americans are proud that we live in a nation governed by the rule of law, often thinking this guarantees justice. But just what does the rule of law mean? Unfortunately, this is one of those terms that can obscure underlying patterns. How the rule of law is established versus what the substance of the rule of law achieves is a critical distinction.

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