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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, www.GenuineJustice.com 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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(15 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Thursday, November 4, 2010
Why Die for War and Not the Golden Rule? It seems curious how we send people off to war, even when we know that many will die, and accept that as a rational thing to do. But the suggestion that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us, or that we confront aggressors with nonviolent civil disobedience, is met with the objection that this is an irrational suggestion. Why do we think war is a more rational solution?
(13 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Monday, November 1, 2010
Is the Golden Rule Optional? Polarizing speech in the U.S. is being used by talk show hosts to dig a canyon between the political right and the left. In addition to words, images are beginning to be used to demean and dehumanize "the other." Is the idea that we are to treat the other as we want to be treated dying? Talk show hosts, take heed.
SHARE More Sharing        Saturday, October 30, 2010
The Worst of the Worst - Part Five of a Series: Restoring the Nation's Integrity The talk show hosts who are using divisive linguistic strategies to divide Americans may be improving their ratings, increasing their earnings or getting a lot of attention. Attacking others can be used to advance material interests, or heighten control. It is not a way to bring honor upon ourselves or our nation. There is no peace at the end of this road.
SHARE More Sharing        Thursday, October 28, 2010
Part Four in a Series, Restoring the Nation's Integrity: Turning Reality on Its Head In the U.S. polarizing words are being used to divide us between warring camps of liberals and conservatives. One strategy is to make positive words negative, so we no longer have a vocabulary to discuss love, empathy or connectedness. Words, the tool we rely upon to communicate, are being robbed of their normal utility to be used instead to attack.
(2 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Part Three in a Series, Restoring the Nation's Integrity: What Do We Want? Polarized speech is dividing the country. It doesn't happen by accident. Specific strategies are used to generate fear and then manipulate it. Within the macro strategy of setting up the "in group" against the "outside group," establishing a clear "us versus them," there are a number of sub strategies. When the strategies are known, it is easier to avoid being manipulated.
(2 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Part Two in a Series, Restoring the Nation's Integrity: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure When we watch the "talking heads" on TV, rudely interrupting each other, putting one another down, we are spectators to a word wrestling match designed to entertain as it plays on our fears. Considering how deeply divisive some of the rhetoric used in these word fights is, and the lessons history teaches us about where this can lead if it goes unchecked, we need to stay alert. It has gotten bad and it is getting worse.
(13 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Monday, October 25, 2010
Restoring the Nation's Integrity, Part One: To Solve A Problem We Must Know We Have A Problem Words can be either powerful or controlling. When words are fear-based, they are used to promote separation and divisiveness to achieve control. When words are love-based, they promote a sense of community and connectedness, and are powerful. A destructive trend is arising in the United States. Words are being used by a growing number of conservatives and liberals to gain control through fear.
(7 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Thursday, October 21, 2010
Time to Get Tough on Get-tough-on-crime Politicians We now have enough data to know that voting for candidates who promise to get tough on crime is a big mistake. That's political jingoism used to play on our fears, not because it is good public policy, but because it's good for getting themselves elected. It is time to get tough on politicians who promise to get tough on crime by getting rid of them.
(2 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Victims and Offenders are Valuable Resources In our traditional criminal law system, victims are reduced to mere witnesses for the state and offenders are to play an intricate game of winner-take-all cat and mouse. But in the restorative justice process, victims and offenders are valuable resources who promote the safety and peace of our communities. Restorative justice makes far more sense.
(2 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Thursday, October 14, 2010
13th World RJ Conference, Day Two The diversity of approaches being used to implement restorative practices was at the heart of the second day of the 13th IIRP World Conference on restorative justice in Hull, U.K. While punitive justice takes a one-size-fits all approach to conflict and crime, namely punishment, restorative justice comes in many forms.
(2 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Wednesday, October 13, 2010
13th World RJ Conference, Day One The 13th International Institute of Restorative Practices World Conference on restorative justice opened today in Hull, U.K. Twenty four countries are represented among the 500 participants. The day long plenary session included reports on restorative justice programs in a number of countries. The take away is that this is a time of significant change.
SHARE More Sharing        Monday, October 11, 2010
A Unitive Justice Systems Theory As our society has become more litigious, unitive models of justice are proving to be an important structure for enhancing institutional efficiency. To insure that unitive models, such restorative justice, collaborative law, transformative mediation and transformational justice are consistently effective, a systems theory for reliably predicting success and avoiding failure will help unitive justice achieve its potential.
(11 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Friday, October 8, 2010
Creating a Restorative City The city of Hull, England, has declared it will be the world's first "restorative city." When this small city lost its thriving fishing industry several generations ago, it languished as the poverty rate rose and expectations fell. They decided to invest disproportionately in children and young people, using restorative practices (RP) as the core element. The results have been remarkable.
(3 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Are Assisted Living Prisons a Good Investment? When politicians promise to "get tough on crime," they don't always tell us what the hefty price tag includes. Take assisted living prisons that house the elderly and infirm, long beyond the time they are a threat to anyone, as an example. Is that the best use of scarce tax dollars?
(6 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Sunday, October 3, 2010
Lessons from the Stanford Prison Experiment The Stanford Prison Experiment, a 1970s college project designed to differentiate between what people bring into a prison environment from what that environment brings out in people, produced unexpected results. The most important lesson learned was that when good people do terrible things, it is the outgrowth of systems that provide the necessary institutional support, authority, and resources for such acts to be perpetrated.
(7 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Saturday, October 2, 2010
Punitive Justice Distilled: the Stanford Prison Experiment Our prison industrial complex is plagued with problems so complex it is difficult to figure out where they begin. The Stanford Prison Experiment conducted by a group of social scientists in the early 1970s helps unravel the mystery
(1 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Thursday, September 30, 2010
Learning From the Talking Piece Imagine 4th graders who have gotten into a dispute sitting in a circle resolving their differences. A talking piece, such as a ball, is passed from one student to another to facilitate a respectful discussion of the conflict. The dispute might be bullying, name calling, taking something that belonged to another student, or even a conflict between a student and a teacher. It works, and it is far better than Zero Tolerance.
(6 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Saturday, September 25, 2010
Time for Zero Tolerance of Zero Tolerance in Our Schools The flaws found in the punitive system of justice at the adult level are the same flaws found in the punitive system when it is applied to schools in what they call Zero Tolerance. This is a good example of how punitive justice is grounded on a flawed moral compass that gives contradictory guidance, even when matters of simple justice are at stake. Fortunately, there is a better way.
(1 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Thursday, September 23, 2010
Execution Vigil for Teresa Lewis Tonight I will be attending my first execution vigil. This is new for me. Before I understood that there are two models of justice, I thought the death penalty made sense. With this new understanding, I am no longer willing to be silent and inactive while the state carries out its act of proportional revenge, blindly gouging an eye for an eye, violating basic moral teachings.
(5 comments) SHARE More Sharing        Tuesday, September 21, 2010
One Woman's Journey from Retribution to Reconciliation There are many compelling examples of how responding to conflict by employing the principles of unitive justice, instead of retribution and revenge, can be transformative. I am especially inspired by the journey taken by Thomas Ann Hines. She is Texan whose son was shot to death by a young man in a carjacking attempt.

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