Three tales of forgiveness
Forgiveness is a hard road to travel for the victim of a crime, but coming face to face with the offender in a restorative justice process can be beneficial for both, according to Kim Workman, director of Rethinking Crime and Punishment.
''The court process often passes victims by because they are still so traumatised by the offence. They don't understand what has gone on and they feel blocked by anger and fear, often for years. At some point, a victim may feel they want to tell the offender what they think of them, how much damage they have done. They may also want to try to understand what motivated the offender. They may want to try to make sense of it all.''
As leaders, how do we forgive?
….Forgiveness at its deepest level is from God and it is a gift. As I understand forgiveness, it is, in part, a process or journey by which we open ourselves to the reality of another, thus, undergo a profound change toward them and ourselves. Forgiveness is a movement on the journey toward reconciliation.
In some instances, forgiveness simply happens by the grace of God through our encounter with another’s vulnerability and humanity. Sometimes, forgiveness simply breaks in on us apart from our choosing.
Heart of Forgiveness
from the entry by Ron Nikkel on pfi.org:
….The fact remains that for many people forgiveness is as controversial a concept as it is an illogical one.
Yet for most of us, even while forgiveness is personally desirable when we desire mercy for our own misdeeds, it is totally abhorrent to us when we are faced with a remorseless person who has deliberately aggrieved or injured us. We even wonder if there is any justification in forgiving someone who doesn’t deserve to be forgiven, let alone when that person persists in an attitude of indifference and impenitence. Somewhat unconsciously we draw a dividing line between ourselves as being among the good and the deserving, and others who are less good and less deserving, not to mention those who are evil and completely reprehensible. And as a result most of us don’t even entertain the possibility that criminal offenders should be forgiven until they have fully paid their “debt to society.”
Restorative justice is not forgiveness
Restorative justice has been receiving a lot of attention lately, due to Paul Tullis's January 4 New York Times Magazine article, "Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?"
This story about a restorative justice conference following the murder of a young woman by her boyfriend was also covered on the January 5 episode of the Today Show, "Parents who forgave their daughter's killer: It 'frees us.'"
Merciful Jews forgive Nazi grave vandal
The Jewish community has taken pity on one of the youths who desecrated graves at a cemetery in Auckland with Nazi symbols - causing worldwide outrage - and is even offering to pay his university tuition fees so he can turn his life around.
Robert Moulden, 19, pleaded guilty to a charge of intentional damage in the Auckland District Court last year and will be sentenced next month. His co-accused, Christian Landmark, 20, has pleaded not guilty and appears in court again on Tuesday.
More than a dozen headstones in the Jewish quarter of the Symonds St Cemetery were vandalised with images of swastikas and expletive-ridden anti-Israeli messages on October 19. It is proving incredibly difficult to remove paint from the porous headstones, which date back to the 19th century, and the repair job could cost as much as $50,000.
Can forgiveness play a role in criminal justice?
….Baliga laid out the ground rules: Campbell would read the charges and summarize the police and sheriff’s reports; next the Grosmaires would speak; then Conor; then the McBrides; and finally Foley, representing the community. No one was to interrupt. Baliga showed a picture of Ann, sticking out her tongue as she looks at the camera. If her parents heard anything Ann wouldn’t like, they would hold up the picture to silence the offending party. Everyone seemed to feel the weight of what was happening. “You could feel her there,” Conor told me.
Evaluation of The Forgiveness Project within prisons
The Forgiveness Project (TFP) is a UK based charity that uses real stories to explore how ideas around forgiveness, reconciliation and conflict resolution can have a positive impact on people’s lives. One aspect of the charity’s work is a programme run within prisons, targeted at the early stages of a sentence.
Review: The Final Gift: A documentary film
The Final Gift-- A Documentary Film offers an intimate look into one woman’s journey of healing following the violent death of her brother. Therese Bartholemew’s brother, Steve, died after being shot in an altercation at a club. This film results from her attempt to understand what happened and its impact on their family. It chronicles their emotions and responses from receiving the first phone call to the sentencing to Therese’s meeting with the offender.
Prison experiences of self forgiveness
Crime challenges communities; criminal activity is an assault on civic society – individuals who break the law are deemed to have stepped outside of society. Yet prison as a response to crime can also be read as an assault on community; often those imprisoned were never fully integrated into society.
Does restorative justice mean forgiveness?
by Lisa Rea
This is a pretty controversial topic: forgiveness and restorative justice. Do all crime victims who support restorative justice therefore forgive? Does one come then the other? I don’t think so. I know many victims of violent crime who have forgiven. Many of their stories are online at Restorative Justice International (RJI) (see victims stories) and I have told others on this blog.
What is problematic to me is when advocates, experts, volunteers in the restorative justice field (or prison reform field) “expect” victims to forgive or worse they “urge” victims to forgive. To me, it is a journey that only the victim can make. Forgiveness can flow out of participating in a victim offender dialogue (i.e. a restorative justice meeting) but we cannot assume it will. It is rather presumptious for anyone to expect of victim of violent crime to forgive the offender. It’s wonderful when it happens but it is not a necessary outcome of restorative justice.