How shocking and disheartening it was to read in last week’s Phoenix that Gov. Janet Mills has denied clemency for Brandon Brown, who has already served 10 years of a 17-year sentence for attempted murder. The victim has forgiven him and said in response to Mills’ decision, “We need to embrace empathy and forgiveness.”
Brown has been a model prisoner, the first inmate in Maine’s history to receive an advanced degree. He’s been accepted into a doctoral program at George Mason University to study restorative justice – an approach to justice in which the victim and offender meet to discuss and decide how the offender might make things right with the victim. It is an alternative theory to the traditional methods of justice, which often focus on retribution. It has been used throughout the world since the 1990s to good effect.
Restorative justice worked in this situation. The victim forgave the offender, and Brown has proved that he can be a productive member of society if given the chance.
In her cruel and irrational decision to keep Brown in prison, Mills has denied him that chance. It just boggles the mind.