Indigenous Showcase – Tribal Justice
** Free event! Click “Get Tickets” to RSVP **
Tribal Justice follows two extraordinary Native American women, both chief judges for their tribes’ courts. Abby Abinanti, Chief Judge of the Yurok Tribe on the northwest coast of California, and Claudette White, Chief Judge of the Quechan Tribe in the southeastern desert near Yuma, California, are creating innovative systems that focus on restoring rather than punishing offenders in order to keep tribal members out of prison, prevent children from being taken from their communities, and stop the school-to-prison pipeline that plagues their young people.
Restorative Justice has become a buzzword in mainstream legal circles, with many in the field advocating a shift from our punitive justice system to one that addresses root problems. Native American tribes have been doing this since time immemorial, resolving disputes by finding ways for offenders to right wrongs and restore balance to the community. Abby and Claudette are reaching back to these methods to address the myriad problems on their reservations today – poverty, alcohol and drug abuse, the breakdown of families, loss of cultural connection – and to heal their communities from within, one case at a time. And they are having a high percentage of success, as exemplified in two of the cases profiled in Tribal Justice. Mainstream courts are taking notice; collaborative courts from Brooklyn to Boulder are looking to Native American justice systems as models for transforming new restorative justice methods in their courts. As Abby remarks in the film, “There’s a winner and loser when you walk out of state court, straight up. That isn’t okay here. It does not resolve the issue.”