Guardian Charity Awards 2013 winner: Yorkshire and Humberside Circles of Support and Accountability
from the article from the Guardian:
YHCOSA works to rehabilitate and reintegrate socially isolated sexual offenders, with the aim of making sure they don't reoffend. Trained volunteers form "circles" of four to six members who meet with a "core member" once a week for around a year, discussing their offences, concerns and ideas for the future.
Inmates pack more than 15,000 meals for hungry kids
from the article on the StarTribune:
When sign-up sheets went up recently at Stillwater prison for inmates to pack meals for hungry kids, the 50 volunteer slots were filled within five minutes. So officials increased the number of inmate volunteers allowed.
On Saturday, 131 of them assembled meal packets for an event led by the prison’s Restorative Justice Offender Council and Trinity Lutheran Church in Bayport.
What I’ve learned as a Neighborhood Court facilitator
From the article by Judith MacBrine on The Davis Enterprise:
On June 6, I facilitated my first Neighborhood Court session. I am one of seven trained facilitators. I was drawn to Neighborhood Court because it uses restorative justice principles to resolve crimes — i.e., identify and repair the harms — as compared to our current punitive justice — i.e., identify the broken law and punish the offender.
With all of the problems associated with the criminal justice system — cost, overcrowding, lag time, recidivism, discrimination — I am thrilled to help find another way to justice. I didn’t expect, however, to be personally impacted by the process.
Oakland activist helps troubled young men heal from trauma
From the article by Matt O'Brien on Contra Costa Times:
It might seem strange, to those with a dim view of them, to witness young men with gang affiliations and juvenile records gathered in a ceremonial circle and disclosing their deepest regrets. But for George Galvis, this is the way people are supposed to resolve their problems. Everyone, he said, wants their voices heard.
Faith groups and restorative justice
A government minister, Jeremy Wright, recently raised hopes of a new approach to criminal justice for England and Wales based on restorative justice. Disappointingly, it is being introduced half-heartedly. The Opposition is attacking it for the wrong reasons; the voluntary sector seems to have no clear strategy for making it happen, and it could fall into the lap of profit-oriented companies. But faith-based groups could fill the gap and help to transform the system.
Restorative justice is based not on ‘returning evil for evil’ but on healing the harm, and where possible enabling the victim to tell the offender the effects of the crime on him or her, and to ask questions. This can be an eye-opener to the offender. Unlike the adversarial criminal trial, the process encourages empathy on both sides, although of course it doesn’t guarantee it.
Baraza Peace Courts: ensuring fair and non-punitive justice in DRC
from the article by Alana Poole on Insight on Conflict:
Riding out through the bush on the back of a motorbike under the sweltering midday African sun, I am once again struck by the sheer determination and courage of my Congolese colleagues from Foundation Chirezi (FOCHI), who sustain their peacebuilding work in extremely challenging environments. FOCHI is a small, local, peacebuilding organisation, working across the territories of Uvira, Fizi, and Ruzizi Plain in South Kivu, eastern DR Congo.
Their primary focus is to ensure accessible, fair and non-punitive justice to those living in rural villages, communities for whom the legal system neither works effectively nor in its best interests, and in which conflicts can quickly turn violent.
LAPD to try voluntary mediation in racial profiling cases
from the article by Joel Rubin in the Los Angeles Times:
The Los Angeles Police Department received the go-ahead Tuesday to launch an experimental mediation program that would bring officers face-to-face with people who have accused them of racial profiling.
Play teaches community about restorative justice
....Theatre on the Beat, an Ontario-based group will put on the play, called Forgiven/Forgotten, in conjunction with the Mennonite Central Committee.
“It is a play that deals with an inmate who is coming out of jail and the community is in turmoil because of it,” said Ryan Siemens, reverend at Grace Mennonite Church. “It asks questions on how can we best deal or integrate an inmate in the healthiest way.”
Siemens is the chair of two restorative justice committees -- Person to Person and Circles of Support and Accountability. Person to Person is a prison visitation program the Mennonite Church has been involved with for 38 years and Circles of Support works with high-risk offenders who have been released back into society.
Joy in the dirty work of restorative justice
....The tension between the study of a topic and the subsequent conversion of ideas into actual work exists in all endeavors, something I have been thinking about as I prepare a training weekend for people interested in learning about restorative justice.
There is a purity in theory, a beauty reminiscent of the idealism of Plato and Pythagoras, that is fun to engage. Working in this realm is a kind of game, fun, yet ultimately empty without the willingness to get out in the world and get dirty. In a training environment we seek to balance this tension in a way that honors both aspects of reality. We want to transmit the underlying principles while also showing how things “really” work.
An Outcome Evaluation of Minnesota Circles of Support and Accountability (MnCoSA)
....The use of the COSA model with high-risk sex offenders began in a small Mennonite community in Canada in the early 1990s. Grounded in the tenets of the restorative justice philosophy, the COSA model attempts to help sex offenders successfully reenter http://www.doc.state.mn.us/publications/documents/9-12MnCOSAResearchinBrief.pdfthe community and, thus, increase public safety, by providing them with social support as they try to meet their employment, housing, treatment, and other social needs. Each COSA consists of anywhere between four and six community volunteers, one of whom is a primary volunteer, who meet with the offender on a regular basis. The results from several evaluations of the Canadian COSA model suggest it significantly reduces sex offender recidivism....