Restorative justice is the law
by Dan Van Ness
Heartspeak Productions is a remarkable Canadian group that describes itself as "on a continual quest to learn about & share the principles and best practices of restorative justice." It does this by creating excellent videos exploring dimensions of restoration. Fraser Community Justice Initiatives Association is a community NGO also in Canada that for 25 years has developed programs and training that help people in conflict find good resolutions.
David Daubney of Canada presented the 2011 International Prize for Restorative Justice
by Dan Van Ness
David Daubney has been awarded the 2011 International Prize for Restorative Justice in recognition of the public policy leadership he has provided in support of restorative justice. The presentation was made during the Prison Fellowship International World Convocation held in Toronto, Canada from 28 June – 2 July, 2011.
"For restorative justice to become the normal way of responding to crime, we need more than programs," said Daniel Van Ness, executive director of PFI's Centre for Justice and Reconciliation. "We also need public policy that reflects restorative principles and values so that the justice system itself becomes more restorative. With this award we recognize a man who as a legislator and an official in his country's justice ministry has helped shape restorative justice public policy in his nation and the world."
Green Paper: Breaking the cycle - Effective punishment, rehabilitation and sentencing of offenders
from the UK Government's new Green Paper:
78. We are committed to increasing the range and availability of restorative justice approaches to support reparation. Restorative justice is the name given to processes which provide victims with the opportunity to play a personal role in determining how an offender makes amends. This can often include direct reparation. A substantial minority of victims would consider meeting their offender by way of a restorative justice process and those victims who do report high levels of satisfaction. The evidence suggests that the approach may also have a positive impact on the offender’s likelihood of reoffending in the future. Getting an offender to confront the consequences of their crimes directly is often an effective punishment for less serious offences.
Economic analysis of interventions for young adult offenders
This report summarises an economic analysis of alternative interventions for young adult offenders. It concludes that, for all offenders aged 18-24 sentenced in a Magistrate’s court for a non-violent offence1 in a given year:
- Diversion from community orders to pre-court RJ conferencing schemes (following a police triage service in which police officers make an immediate assessment of the need and likely benefit from a community intervention) is likely to produce a lifetime cost saving to society of almost £275 million (£7,050 per offender). The costs of RJ conferencing are likely to be paid back within the first year of implementation. During the course of two parliaments (10 years), implementation of such a scheme would be likely to lead to a total net benefit to society during this period of over £1 billion.
- Diversion from custody to community orders via changes in sentencing guidelines is likely to produce a lifetime cost saving to society of more than £12 million (£1,032 per offender). The costs of changing sentencing guidelines are likely to be paid back within three years of implementation. During the course of two parliaments (10 years), implementation of such a scheme would be likely to lead to a total net benefit to society during this period of almost £33 million.
- Diversion from trial under adult law to trial under juvenile law following maturity assessment is likely to produce a lifetime cost saving to society of almost £5 million (£420 per offender). The costs of maturity assessments are likely to be paid back within five years of implementation. During the course of two parliaments (10 years), implementation of such a scheme would be likely to lead to a total net benefit to society during this period of almost £473,000.
ZAMBIA: Justice delayed becoming justice denied
Harry Mubita was tired of his wretched condition in prison. He had been in Lusaka Central Prison for more than a year, and still there was no sign that his theft case would be heard.
Mubita, a tailor, accepted money from a woman who wanted him to make her a traditional dress known as the Chitenge Outfit – a long skirt and an intricately cut and sewn top, with a matching wrap-around and head-scarf. All made from a single length of material.
But he failed to deliver.
Mubita also did not refund the ZMK70,000 (about 14.40 dollars) payment, or return the six metres of cotton print. The aggrieved woman told the police, and two constables armed with AK-47 rifles arrested Mubita at his Kaunda Square Market shop. Mubita's case is not unusual.
More cautionary news from the US
By Dan Van Ness
United States public officials are reconsidering sentencing policies, driven by the increasingly high cost implications of current laws and practices. Mandatory sentencing laws, including Three Strikes legislation adopted in a number of states, take discretion away from judges and require prison sentences (often quite lengthy) be served.
Do Better Do Less: The report of the Commission on English Prisons Today
From the Executive Summary: England and Wales has become a jurisdiction which punishes excessively, harshly and with little attention paid to the relationship between legislation and impact on prison numbers. Prison has become the defining tool of the punishment process and we now imprison more of our population than almost any other country in western Europe.
Building new prisons costly – cheaper options needed: [New Zealand] PM
From the article in nzherald.co.nz: Building new prisons is outrageously expensive and alternatives such as housing prisoners in converted shipping containers have to be considered, Prime Minister John Key said today.
Corrections Minister Judith Collins has floated the idea of prisoners building their own cells from shipping containers.
Opponents say the proposal is inhumane.
Mr Key said it was only one idea to get around a serious problem due to a lack of prison space.
"It's one of a number (of options)... and I can't tell you if it is likely to take place."