The crime rate of the future is in the hands of our children, and they are in our hands now. The most powerful way to affect crime is to strengthen the community. That can best be done through the emerging concept of restorative justice, which reflects the ancient understanding that the web of relationships in a community is what regulates behavior, not the law. Texas should establish pilot restorative justice programs, such as neighborhood conference committees, where neighbors create sanctions for juvenile offenders, and circle sentencing, where members of the community assess punishment for adult offenders.

Earle was the Travis County district attorney from 1977 to 2008.

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