Young people are entering the juvenile justice system in surprising numbers, and they seem to emerge worse than when they entered. In this film, a co-production of National Geographic and Pacific Islanders in Communications, we see how a group of innovators applies the restorative justice principles of the Maori people of New Zealand to the mean streets of Baltimore.
In Maori villages of the past, a crime would put the community out of balance. Traditional Maori justice turns on the idea of restoring that balance. This film crosses the globe to a culturally sacred marae (meeting ground) where Judge Heemi Taumanu has established an alternative youth court that draws on these principles. Viewers see how people come together to resolve conflict in their own communities and all of the drama that unfolds when everyone is given a chance and encouraged to let emotions out. Can a community-based approach to justice derived from a structure conceived centuries ago in New Zealand give hope to the mean streets of the United States?