TJ Philosophy

Transformative Justice: A Philosophical (Re)orientation for Universities

The Transformative Justice Project has been deeply informed by the transformative justice
work of communities of color and collectivities like Generation Five, Incite!,
Creative Interventions, Project Nia, Just Practice, Philly Stands Up, Interrupting Criminalization and the
Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective. According to many of these
practitioners, Transformative Justice (TJ) as a philosophy and orientation is
best captured by Kelly Hayes and Mariame Kaba who tell us that,

Transformative justice is not a flowery phrase for a court proceeding that delivers an outcome we like. It is a community process developed by anti-violence activists of color, in particular, who wanted to create responses to violence that do what criminal punishment systems fail to do: build support and more safety for the person harmed, figure out how the broader context was set up for this harm to happen, and how that context can be changed so that this harm is less likely to happen again.

Rather than rely on alienation, vigilantism, and/or state-sanctioned violence, a transformative
justice approach seeks to address harm in ways that do not further traumatize
already marginalized communities. Transformative Justice instead calls us to create
adaptable and sustainable support and accountability models. It also calls us to
create practices that help community members develop a sense of empathy and
responsibility to and for each other. These are some of the preconditions that
prepare us to respond to harm in a way that is trauma-informed while also being
attentive to the structures and practices that currently enable harmful
behavior to persist. One of its goals is to proactively and intentionally build
communities of support and communities of accountability so that we are better
able to respond to harm in a way that is sustainable and consistent over time.

[i] Hayes and Kaba, “The Sentencing of Larry Nassar Was Not ‘Transformative Justice.’ Here’s Why” The Appeal