We need urgently to change the way we do justice.

As it stands, the American criminal justice system is based largely on our emotional rather than our rational response to crime. It too often seeks to satisfy our thirst for retribution against the criminal while doing little to rehabilitate anyone and nothing for either the victim or the community. In a mockery of “liberty and justice for all,” we lock up people of color and the poor for petty crimes for which whites and the wealthy go free.

One effective answer is restorative justice, which, while not replacing incarceration, helps mitigate many cases of nonviolent crime by addressing not just the punishment of the offender, but also the price paid by the victim as well as the community. Crime always results in broken relationships, many of them unseen: A house break-in leaves not just the homeowner but also a whole neighborhood feeling violated. Restorative justice recognizes the need, in the wake of a crime, not just to punish the crime but also to heal the community.

By supporting Seth Levy as Cumberland County district attorney in the June 12 Democratic primary, we can build a model of justice here that serves all of us well. Seth is no pushover: A victim himself as a child of violent crime, he is committed to protecting our citizens. But he’s also the only candidate experienced in and dedicated to restorative justice. He knows the tragic economic and social cost to all Mainers of simply warehousing our fellow citizens who’ve broken the law. If we can overcome our own worst instincts and support the rehabilitation of offenders as well as the reconciliation of the community, we’ll all be winners.

Vote for Seth Levy for district attorney.

The Rev. Frank C. Strasburger

Brunswick