Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream that one day a people long denied their rights would become full citizens of our nation. Today, I have a dream—a dream for Maine and our nation.

I have a dream that one day everyone, even those who fall and harm others, will be treated with dignity and respect and given a second chance to take responsibility for their actions, make restitution to those whom they have harmed, seek rehabilitation, and become productive citizens.

I have a dream that the needs of victims will become a crucial concern of our justice system and that the resources needed for their support and healing will be made available.

I have a dream that we will allocate more resources to crime prevention than to retribution and that our Return on Investment will not be measured in short-term dollars but in the long-term reweaving of our frayed social fabric.

I have a dream that all children will be taught in the ways of restorative practices and that their education will include sowing seeds of peace and reconciliation.

I have a dream that our prisons and jails will no longer serve as society’s primary mental health and substance abuse facilities, but will be reserved for those few who are truly a danger to society or themselves and provide a full range of rehabilitative resources to reduce recidivism.

I have a dream — a dream that across our state and nation, citizens, professionals and politicians will join together to transform our culture of punishment into one of prevention, healing and restoration.

— The Rev. T. Richard Snyder, Ph.D.

Dick Snyder is the chairman of the board of the Restorative Justice Institute of Maine, founder and a board member of the Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast, Professor Emeritus and former Academic Dean of New York Theological Seminary, and recently served for two years as Academic Dean of Bangor Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Cassie, are residents of Camden.