The Power of Dignity
How Transforming Justice Can Heal Our Communities
A renowned judge wonders: What would criminal justice look like if we put respect at the center?
The Black and Latina daughter of a working-class family, Victoria Pratt learned to treat everyone with dignity, no matter their background. When she became Newark Municipal Court’s chief judge, she knew well the inequities that poor, mentally ill, Black, and brown people faced in the criminal justice system. Pratt’s reforms transformed her courtroom into a place for problem-solving and a resource for healing. She assigned essays to defendants so that the court could understand their hardships and kept people out of jail through alternative sentencing and nonprofit partnerships. She became the judge of second chances, because she knew too few get a first one.
With a foreword from Senator Cory Booker, The Power of Dignity shows how we can transform courtrooms, neighborhoods, and our nation to support the vulnerable and heal community rifts. That’s the power of dignity.
—Los Angeles Review of Books
“Weaving together hope and optimism, Judge Pratt shows the ways that communities and courtrooms are intrinsically connected to each other… Pratt alternates between her own meditation on the judicial system and the stories of those who have passed through her Newark courtroom. Her research, backed up by these experiences, makes her deeply personal, beautifully written debut all the more impactful.”—Booklist
“Timely and hopeful, this book offers insight into how procedural justice can not only help to heal people and society, but also a judicial system in dire need of reform. An eloquent and humane memoir and current affairs study.”—Kirkus
"Judge Pratt’s extraordinary approach for restoring humanity to the justice system is applicable to business, education, government, and our personal lives. You don’t just read this book—you take action!"—Marie Forleo, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything is Figureoutable
“Judge Pratt is a remarkable and powerful storyteller. The stories of courtroom cases in these pages are gripping, and they add up to something bigger: Pratt’s critical message about transforming our criminal justice system. If you believe in achieving ‘liberty and justice for all,’ read this book.”—Sunny Hostin, Emmy-winning co-host of The View and New York Times bestselling author of Summer on the Bluffs
—Greg Berman, Former Executive Director, Center for Court Innovation