The Think Tank with Mike O'NeilThe Think Tank with Mike O'Neil

Dave Tierney on Restorative Justice

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Conservatives are prone to think that the answer to crime is severe punishment. Liberals are traditionally more concerned with rehabilitation. It is pretty hard to design a program that appeals to both groups.


There is a program in Maricopa County that would seem to have something for everyone.  The Restorative Justice Construction project assigns probationers with construction skills to work details that involve undertaking construction projects for legitimate and needy nonprofits. The nonprofits generally contribute needed materials, while this program provides the labor.


Worthy charitable entities get much needed work done. Since participating probationers include both master craftsmen and apprentices, the latter often get to develop marketable job-related skills. And court-mandated work requirements are met by doing things that are more useful to the community than picking up trash.


Attorney Dave Tierney has been involved with this program for many years. We discuss how the program evolved, what it takes to make the program work, how it differs from less successful programs using prison labor and what are the obstacles to replication of this program elsewhere.


The Think Tank airs on KTAR 92.3 FM on Saturday 3-4pm and Sundays from 9-10pm. Podcasts are available after broadcast at

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