Restorative justice for veterans: The San Francisco Sheriff 's Department's Community of Veterans Engaged in Restoration (COVER)
....Veterans represent a rapidly growing segment of the jail population whose characteristics mirror those of the general jail population and include histories of substance abuse, inconsistent work histories and challenges related to maintaining family relationships.
Like most prisoners, they receive few services while incarcerated to address the myriad of health, mental health, and psychosocial issues that contribute to their incarceration and pose challenges upon release. The military discharge status of most justice-involved vets—less than honorable—makes them ineligible for many of the benefits and services offered by the Veterans Administration (VA).
Colorado Victim chooses restorative justice and meets with offender
by Lisa Rea
This is an excellent article, well written with the right emphasis and explanation of restorative justice, telling the story of Sharletta Evans. She chose to meet the man who killed her young son. This was made possible after the passage of legislation carried by Representative Pete Lee.
Denver woman feels the power of restorative justice after son murdered
....When legislation last year cleared the way for a pilot program in restorative justice with the Colorado Department of Corrections, Evans — who had testified on behalf of the measure — embraced the opportunity to go first. She and her older son Calvin Hurd, who was 6 when gunshots peppered the car where he sat sleeping with his brother, began more than six months of preparation for a direct dialogue with Johnson.
Part of that involved revisiting the crime. Evans had driven with her two children to a northeast Denver duplex to pick up her grandniece because there had been a drive-by there the previous night. She left her sons in the car.
After the crime: the power of restorative justice. Dialogues between victims and violent offenders
Violence, rape, murder and other abusive crimes: not usually pleasant subjects to read about, yet Susan Miller's book left this reader with a positive feeling. This is largely due to Miller herself, who presents the information in a straightforward, sympathetic but non-judgemental way; to Kim Book, who started the organization Victims' Voices Heard after her daughter was murdered; and to the participants themselves. Not all victims felt able to forgive, and this should not be a criterion for 'success'; but they followed the Amish precept: don't balance hurt with hate. Not all offenders accepted full responsibility. Miller divides restorative justice into diversion, taking the place of the criminal justice process for relatively minor cases, and 'therapeutic' RJ, where the offender is already in custody or has served a prison term. These cases are all in the latter category.
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.
Apologies help heal
Last week, we wrote of the bravery of the 16-year-old girl who was the victim of an apparent gang rape at a rave in Pitt Meadows last September.
The young woman has issued a statement thanking both those who supported her and those who spread lies and bullied her in the wake of the incident. Both, she said, had made her a stronger person.
The victim was forced to leave school after images and rumours about the attack began circulating. She is now taking most of her classes online.
You are forgiven: Family reunites with castaway son
From the article in the Solomon Star:
“YOU are my son again” was the statement the son and the audience were waiting to hear.
George Topou, has been waiting hopelessly to hear that statement from his father’s mouth, and it did emotionally assemble tears in everyone’s eyes, when John Tepala screamed them out loud with tears yesterday.
Topou is a prisoner who is the ninth to reconcile with his victim and family members through the Sycamore Tree project.
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.