They began to outline an issue of the journal which they tentatively called Contemporary Criminology: A Journal of Ideas Predisposed Toward Radical Democratization. It was hoped that the first issue might arrive during the Fall of 1996.
About the same time, Sullivan and Tifft also spoke about creating a new association for scholars, activists, and practitioners that would serve as an alternative to the conventional academic criminology and criminal justice organizations. It was suggested that the members of this association might come together each year and share their ideas and discuss their current work in mostly plenary sessions. Great emphasis would be put on the participation of everyone present through extensive discussions. An invitation would be extended to all those associated with the restorative justice community who, though they met periodically around the globe, had no permanent home or community with which to share their ideas and find support.
It was also apparent that there were small groups of scholars in the academic fields of anthropology, political science, religious studies, and sociology among other academic disciplines which were grappling with nonviolent, non-state, non-power-economy-based approaches to justice. Moreover, many of the people interested in these issues were not limiting their concerns about justice to criminal or even restorative justice but were in fact extending them to matters within the family, the school, the workplace, and the neighborhood.
To help with the establishment of the new journal and the new association, the Institute for Economic and Restorative Justice was formed. It was intended to serve as a catalytic agent to bring the new journal and association into existence. After Tifft and Sullivan guest-edited a special issue of the Justice Professional on "Criminology as Peacemaking," Sullivan began negotiations with Gordon & Breach to publish a journal not on criminology or criminal justice but on justice issues generally. The journal would be called Contemporary Justice Review with a subtitle of Issues in Criminal, Social, and Restorative Justice. The journal soon became a reality. In the meantime, Tifft and Sullivan with the assistance of Peter Cordella and Peter Sanzen began work toward making a trial run of the new association in the form of a conference in Albany, New York.
This three-day conference was held in early June 1997. Its theme was "Justice Without Violence: Views From Peacemaking Criminology and Restorative Justice." It was cosponsored by the Institute for Economic and Restorative Justice and the Criminal Justice Department of Hudson Valley Community College. There was great uncertainty about how many people would come but in fact over 165 scholars, practitioners, and activists from all parts of the United States (U.S.), Canada, New Zealand, England, and Australia, arrived to examine new ways to think about and practice justice without violence.
The following June (1998), about a dozen people were invited to Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire for a three-day symposium to discuss issues of restorative justice but also to talk about ways to further the development of the new association. Among those present were David Karp of Skidmore College, Javier Trevino of Wheaton College, Peter Sanzen of Hudson Valley Community College, Peter Cordella and Polly Smith of Saint Anselm College, Dennis Sullivan of the Institute for Economic and Restorative Justice, Fred Boehrer and Diana Conroy of the Albany Catholic Worker, and Frank Kirkpatrick of Trinity College, CT.
Then, in November of that year, during the 50th annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology in Washington, DC, Javier Trevino, Peter Sanzen, Peter Cordella, Larry Tifft, Dennis Sullivan, Hal Pepinsky (who was presenting at the time of the formal organizational meeting), and Fred Boehrer (who had to return home early) met to form the new international association which was named Justice Studies Association (JSA). The cofounders decided that, while the new association would be concerned about issues of criminology and criminal justice, its focus would extend globally and to issues of justice in all areas of our lives.
The cofounders also emphasized how important it was that the association welcome activists and practitioners as well as scholars to share their ideas and current work and hopefully collaborate on projects. Hence, they continue to see members come from all fields of academic endeavor interested in justice: anthropology, social work, history, religion, criminal justice, sociology, psychology, law, among others. The work that people come to share ranges from broad theories of social justice to specific restorative justice demonstration projects including direct action and practice. Members of JSA continue to reiterate that the association considers activists and practitioners to be an essential part of its makeup. They are seen as an integral part of the mix that gives depth to the exchanges that take place throughout each conference. The first formal conference of JSA was held in June 1999, also at Saint Anselm College. The 2000 conference was held in Albany, New York in May/June of 2000, attracting participants internationally and from all parts of the U.S.
Different theories of criminal justice can usually be distinguished in how they answer questions about punishment. Punishment is a penalty imposed by a legal system along with, or because of, a stigma of wrongdoing or lawbreaking. This definition purposefully excludes penalties unrelated to wrongdoing or lawbreaking, even when imposed by a legal system. It also distinguishes, or at least restricts, this definition from the one used in operant conditioning. "Although some peacemakers reject the concept of punishment and confinement, most do not, and neither concept is incompatible with PMC. The goal is to balance the needs of all parties rather than exact a 'just measure of pain.' Prison-oriented peacemaking activity includes working for the attrition of prisons."
Should criminals be punished? The answer to this question is important as a negative answer makes further questions about punishment irrelevant. In fact, if we answer no, then the theory of punishment does not even belong in the theory of criminal justice. Most theories answer yes, that there are at least some criminals or criminal acts that should be punished. However, this question should not be so easily dismissed as there are theories which do answer no. Consider, for example, the political theory of anarchy. Also, certain versions of restorative justice might optimistically make the claim that punishment is unnecessary.
There is also the question of why we should punish. "A legalistic definition of crime takes as its starting point the statutory definitions contained in the penal code, legal statutes or ordinances. A crime is a crime because the law says so. Sure, there are concerns about overcriminalization (too many laws) and undercriminalization (not enough laws), but at least on the surface, a legalistic approach seems practical." Utilitarian reasons for punishment include deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, and restoration. A popular moralistic basis for punishment is that punishment of a wrongdoer is good in and of itself. This is the position of many adherents to retributive justice. It should be noted, however, that there are other moral arguments for punishment. These include the idea that victims have a right to retribution, or that the criminal has a right to punishment. It is not necessary for a theory of punishment to have a single underlying reason, although many do.
We should punish criminals, but unfortunately, the answer is not that simple. Should we punish only lawbreakers, or other wrongdoers? Should we punish all criminals? Often, the answers to these questions are interrelated with the reasons for punishment. For example, if the reason for punishment is rehabilitation, then we should not punish criminals who show genuine remorse. In practice, this is difficult to determine.
Peacemaking criminology is a non-violent movement against oppression, social injustice and violence as found within criminology, criminal justice and society in general. Its proponents propose that crime and the criminal justice process are characterized by suffering to victims, offenders and society, and that crime and justice problems may be eliminated or reduced by healing the suffering which makes them a possibility. "A strategy of compassion and service is therefore advocated to affect suffering and thus crime. Peacemaking criminologists recognize the dialectical relationship between the individual and society, each shaping and being shaped by the other." A strategy of compassion and service is therefore advocated to affect suffering and thus crime. Peacemaking criminologists recognize the dialectical relationship between the individual and society, each shaping and being shaped by the other. It is therefore important that individuals achieve a measure of peace within themselves in order to move society in the direction of peace. To this end, peacemaking criminologists advocate spiritual practice, respect for the sacred, and love as tools with which one may develop the discrimination to recognize injustice and the desire and ability to end suffering.
Peacemaking in criminology is not unlike peacemaking in other spheres of social life which attempts to create peace in the face of war, harmony rather than conflict, and non-violence instead of violence. As a new branch of criminology, it…