Where are the personal apologies for the Freedom Riders?
There has been only a single personal apology for the events that happened 50 years ago. Elwin Wilson, a former member of the KKK, drew the first blood of the Freedom Ride when he attacked John Lewis as he stepped into the bus station in Rock Hill, S.C. He traveled to Washington, D.C. in 2009 to find John Lewis -- now Congressman Lewis -- and to tell him he was sorry.
Congressman Lewis described the meeting to Oprah like this: "He said, 'I attacked you, and I'm sorry. I want to apologize. Will you accept my apology?' And I said, 'Yes.' And he gave me a hug, and he started crying. I hugged him back, and I shed some tears also."
"He's the first and only person who has ever apologized to me."
Interview with Debbie, a rape victim of Robert Power
from the interview by Ines Aubert:
Ines Aubert was a pen pal of Robert Powers who had been sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl. She discovered over time that Robert had changed profoundly and that he wanted, among other things, to extend an apology to any of his victims who wished to receive that.
This took on some urgency at the end of 2010 as Robert neared the end of his life (he died of cancer on December 3). Ines contacted restorative justice consultant and RJOnline Correspondent Lisa Rea for assistance, but they were unable to find a way to reach out to Robert's victims. Lisa wrote about this in an earlier blog entry on RJOB.
Commenting on an article about Robert's death in a Florida newspaper, Ines wrote that he had wanted to apologize before his death but had been unable. Another reader -- one of Robert's victims -- replied to Ines that she had forgiven Robert. The two were able to connect, and Ines recently interviewed Debbie about her experience as a victim and the reasons for her forgiveness. The following is a short excerpt of an answer Debbie gave to Ines' question about how she felt when she learned that Robert had a pen pal.
Michael Vick, Bill Simmons, forgiveness and restorative justice
Bill Simmons (aka The Sports Guy) wrote a recent [espn.com] column about Michael Vick and his comeback.
....Simmons writes that Vick emerged as the “feel good story” of the NFL. But his wife disagrees. The Sports Gal cannot forgive Vick. The Sports Gal says that if you love dogs, you cannot possibly forgive Vick. Sport Guy retorts that Vick did everything humanly possibly to pay for his crimes, apologize and rehabilitate his life. He lost EVERYTHING. He said he was genuinely sorry. He is fixing what he broke. Vick is a real Restorative Justice story. And Bill Simmons forgives him. Mrs. Simmons loves dogs too much to forgive Vick.
The article is a great read and I recommend reading it.
Forgiving my daughter's killer
One of the two 15-year-old boys who killed my 26-year-old daughter Cathy was released from prison last month after serving 23 years of a 54-year sentence. Gary Brown was released from prison one week before the Supreme Court decided in Graham v. Florida to end the practice of sentencing juveniles to life without parole for crimes other than murder.
Escobar's son seeks atonement for father's sins
Pablo Escobar, who led Colombia's Medellin cocaine cartel, was once the world's most wanted man. At the height of his power in the 1980s, he killed politicians and policemen and ordered an airliner blown out of the sky. With U.S. help, the Colombian police finally hunted him down.
Sixteen years after Escobar's death, the families of his victims haven't forgotten about him. And neither has Escobar's only son [Sebastian Marroquin], whose story is told in a new documentary film that opens Dec. 10 in Colombia and then in January at the Sundance Film Festival.
The son, who lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, says that he wants to atone for the sins of his father.
Restorative justice from a survivor's perspective
by Penny Beerntsen
Note: this article originally appeared as a comment responding to a posting by Lisa Rea. We were concerned that many readers may have missed it and so are posting it as its own entry. We are grateful to Penny Beerntsen for her willingness to share her extraordinary story.
As a survivor of a violent crime, I am a firm believer in the power of restorative justice programs to transform both the victim and the offender. I learned about victim offender conferencing shortly after surviving a violent sexual assault and attempted murder. Although I was unable to meet with my offender, as he had not taken responsibility for his crime, I began participating in victim impact panels inside prisons. Although I was not speaking directly to my offender, I was telling my story to others who were incarcerated for violent crimes, including rape. Much of my healing took place inside maximum security prisons as a result of the dialogue I engaged in with these offenders. If someone had told me at the time of the crime that this would be the case, I would have told that individual they were crazy! I participated in these panels because I thought I had something to offer the offenders. I learned that the process, if properly conducted, is mutually beneficial.
An IRA bomber and a victim's daughter
On Tuesday, former Irish Republican Army (IRA) activist Pat Magee, who was convicted of the Brighton bombings in 1984, met Jo Berry, daughter of Sir Anthony Berry, one of the five victims killed in the blast.
Though Magee had been given eight life sentences, he was freed in 1999 under the negotiated terms of the Good Friday Agreement of 1999. Magee's conviction was based on his planning of the bomb and for attempting to kill British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who was attending a conference at the Grand Hotel in Brighton (above), where the bomb was planted.
Justice and mercy
by Dan Van Ness
The compassionate release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of participation in the bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, has generated a great deal of discussion. And well it might; 270 people died when the plane crashed (259 passengers and 11 residents of Lockerbie). Al-Megrahi was the only person convicted of the terrorist attack.