Collaboration of Social Organization with the System of Justice: A Practical Guide

Since 2013, Court Watch Poland Foundation has been collaborating with public universities in Białystok, Gdańsk and Toruń on a project aimed at fostering social innovation in the area of justice. The results of the project, financed through the Polish National Center for Research and Development, have been collected in a publication edited by prof. Cezary Kulesza, dr Dariusz Kużelewski and Bartosz Pilitowski, titled Collaboration of Social Organization with the System of Justice: A Practical Guide. The guide gathers experiences and analyses, whoch preceded the creation of Restorative Justice Centers in Bialystok and Torun. In the first part, Polish and American inspirations were presented: Red Hook Community Justice Center in Brooklyn, New York, and the system of coordinating community service developed by Stowarzyszenie Ludzie Ludziom in Wrocław, Poland. In the second part, legal framework for RJ Centers is discussed, including an analysis by Judge Piotr Gensikowski concerning the possibility of adapting certain features of American-style community courts in Polish context. The third, practical part outlines a vision for RJ Centers in Poland, detailing potential activities in preparatory, judicial and enforcement stage of proceedings. The fourth part contains document templates, which will prove useful in the daily operation of the Centers.
Editors of the volume note:

Overcrowded prisons, people serving sentences for petty crimes and misdemeanors, poor efficiency of prison sentences, rehabilitation that works only in theory – all that (and a number of other related problems, which we do not discuss here) are problems common in most developed countries, including Poland. Experiences from the US and Europe (including local Polish experience) suggest that one possibility to solve some of these problems is the systematic cooperation between NGOs and the system of justice.

The present guide is addressed to both representatives of the judiciary and civil society organizations interested in a closer cooperation in disseminating the ideas of restorative justice. These ideas are particularly important in the context of the recent amendments to the Polish criminal law. Hopefully, the outlined model of cooperation will help overcome the long-term impasse in the development of mediation – and other forms of restorative justice – in Poland.