Penn State's response to child sexual abuse: What about the victims?
by Lisa Rea
As the story comes out in more detail about the alleged sexual abuse of children by Jerry Sandusky, former assistant football coach at Penn State, the coverage of the story seems to be more about the actions of veteran coach Joe Paterno--his resignation or the university's decision to fire him.
Listening to crime victims: North Carolina restorative justice conference
by Lisa Rea
When crime victims speak about the effect violent crime has had on their lives you have to listen. On June 9th I moderated a crime victims roundtable during the 3rd Annual Restorative Justice Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina coordinated this year by Campbell University Law School. The roundtable called "Listening to Crime Victims: Their Journeys Toward Healing" was sponsored by the Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing. The four victims of violence who told their stories were Bill Pelke, chair, Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing (Alaska), Stephen Watt, Stephen Watt Ministries (Wyoming) , Bess Klassen-Landis, musician and teacher (Vermont), and Kim Book, executive director, Victims Voices Heard (Delaware). No matter how many crime victims panels I have moderated the stories are always riveting and often what I hear the victims say is new even when I am familiar with the stories. I learn something new as the victims move along in their lives---their own personal journeys.
Restorative Justice on Death Row: healing for crime victims?
by Lisa Rea
A death row inmate in Florida recently died in prison before the state could execute him. I became aware of Robert's case because I met his pen pal, Ines, a woman from Switzerland who had be-friended him through a pen pal organization, Lifespark, based in that country. After being interviewed by Ines for her organization's newsletter on the subject of forgiveness and restorative justice I learned more about the man she wrote in a Florida prison who had served some 20 years on death row. The story came to an end on December 3rd, 2010 when Robert unexpectedly died of cancer. But what I learned from my encounter with Ines was the real need to open doors more fully for all victims of violent crime wherever their offenders live and wherever their victims live (if they are still alive). I learned through Ines that her pen pal, once a very violent offender, was ready to attempt to make things right, as much as possible, with the victims or victim's family members that he had injured. The rap sheet on this man was very violent and longer than I'd ever seen.
I often learn things about restorative justice and how to apply it seemingly coincidentally. When cases draw me, or more likely the people behind the cases, I have a hard time saying no.
Dark charges from Mahony's inner circle
by Lisa Rea.
When I read this column on the clergy abuse scandal written by Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times it was like getting an immediate migraine headache. I have followed the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church closely since the first public eruption in 2000/2001. I know I'm not alone. But my interest led me to speak out on this subject publicly because of my deep commitment to restorative justice and its great value to victims of crime and offenders as well. But my passion to do more than speak about it privately to my own circle of friends and family was because this subject mixes abuse of children with faith. Since I am a committed Christian these news stories have appalled me deeply. It has offended me as a Christian. And then there are the victims.
The legacy of clergy sexual abuse: A cry for restorative justice
By Lisa Rea
I first became active on the issue of clergy abuse of children in 2001 after reading a local story in Northern California of a high profile school superintendent who told his story to our local newspaper of being abused by the family priest when he was a child. I read that man’s brave story on the front page of our little newspaper over a morning cup of coffee. But I can remember the impact then, as I do now, a reaction of shock, disbelief, and anger. How is this possible? What can we do? And how can we do nothing?