Tending deep wounds
In October, Prison Fellowship South Africa held its last scheduled Sycamore Tree Project® (STP) course for 2013 in Pretoria Women’s Correctional Centre. The 18 prisoners and six victims addressed many issues related to crime and the harm that it causes. For one, the programme offered an opportunity to address the deep wounds of racism and violence from her country’s past.
From death row to restorative justice
from the article by Marina Cantacuzino:
Restorative justice is a system that fundamentally views crime as injury rather than wrong-doing, and justice as healing rather than punishment. Whilst visiting New York, Minneapolis, Hawaii and Texas (thanks to receiving a Winston Churchill travelling fellowship) I've uncovered some remarkable US-based programs that bear this out. But as founding director of The Forgiveness Project, a UK-based charity that delivers a restorative justice programme in prisons, I'm also surprised by how often the death penalty is central to the conversation.
Actions and consequences: How restorative justice can help victims move on
from the article by Javed Khan:
If you were a victim of crime, would you want to meet the offender?
What would you say to them?
A burglary victim might, for example, want to talk about the inconvenience, the hassle of sorting out the mess and replacing what has been stolen.
They could spell out that some things - just objects to an outsider - are completely irreplaceable, and how sentimental value outweighs any financial cost.
But we all know that actions have unintended consequences, and burglary isn't just about what's been taken, it's about what's been left behind too.
Collapsing barriers between victims and offenders
In mid-July, Prison Fellowship Italy completed the first Sycamore Tree Project® (STP) course in Modena Prison. Nine prisoners and five crime survivors came together to share their stories and develop a mutual respect for each other.
In a press conference held at the end of the course, the prison director, Rosa Alba Casella, described her initial scepticism about allowing the programme in the facility. However, the experiences of the nine participating prisoners and the intense interest from the rest of the inmate population convinced her of the usefulness of STP.
Restorative justice behind prison walls
from the article by Pierre R. Berastain from Huff Post Crime:
On June 22 and 23, I made a promise to individuals typically considered convicted murderers, thieves, and drug dealers, most of whom are serving at least one life sentence for their crimes. I have sat on my thoughts and words for a few hours now because, in all sincerity, whatever I see on my screen seems lifeless, devoid of everything I experienced in the company of these men. Yet, I made a promise to tell the story of those two days.
With the help of my friend and colleague Professor Karen Lischinski, the men from the Restorative Justice Group at MCI-Norfolk Prison worked for many months to host a two-day restorative justice retreat behind prison walls. Let me repeat: The men serving time at Norfolk Prison helped put together a retreat meant to inspire inmates to rehabilitate, mend the harms they have caused, and make promises to the community in and outside the prison walls that they will live more honest and honorable lives. The experience felt transformative.
Seeing the Other Side
From the article on PFI.org:
Once so full of fear that she could not sleep or speak, Melissa now stood before a group of prisoners to read aloud a letter she wrote to the man whose crime tormented her for years. "What you did to me 14 years ago changed my life forever,” she read from her letter. She was recalling the day when a man held a gun to her head during a robbery at the bank where she worked in Queensland, Australia. While the robbery lasted only a short time, the ramifications from it continue to affect Melissa today. “I lost years of my life and years from my children’s life,” she lamented. “I prayed the world would stop. The world kept spinning, and while other lives thrived, mine stood still.”
Empowered Victims & Moral Perpetrators: A Needs-Based Model of Reconciliation
At a recent workshop at Leiden University on Obstacles and Catalysts for Peaceful Behavior, Nurit Shnabel presented exciting research distinguishing the needs of victims and perpetrators in interpersonal and intergroup conflicts. According to Shnabel and colleagues’ Needs-Based Model of Reconciliation, victims of conflict experience a psychological loss of status and honor, thus undermining their identities as powerful actors. Perpetrators, on the other hand, experience a psychological loss of social acceptance, thus threatening their identities as moral actors. Accordingly, victims and perpetrators are differentially motivated to restore these respective identities, and interactions that do so will increase their willingness to reconcile....
What if we gave victims of serious crimes the opportunity to face the offenders?
There has been much speculation about the factors that might lead someone to commit the kind of crime that was perpetrated against Mikey Partida. While some of it may be premature it is a normal human response to try to make sense of something that is so senseless.
….Lisa Rea, founder of Restorative Justice International, who has worked in restorative justice since 1992 believes that victims of crime do not want some vague sense of "closure" but rather they want to regain a sense of safety, security and healing. She argues in a 2012 article that for many victims the healing process would be facilitated by an opportunity to face the offender, ask him/her questions, describe the harm that was done, and seek a way for the harms done to them to be made right. She notes: "...(T)hroughout my work the number of victims who are seeking to participate in some kind of restorative justice dialogue is increasing."
Sentencing circles for lawyers
If sentencing circles are fine for the criminal justice system, why shouldn’t they be an option at Law Society of Upper Canada disciplinary hearings?
In a recent case involving lawyer Terence John Robinson, an LSUC hearing panel had the task of deciding whether to allow a sentencing circle for him. Robinson, a member of the Wikwemikong First Nation, has been in hot water in relation to a 2009 conviction for aggravated assault. He subsequently admitted to conduct unbecoming a licensee but wants to return to his criminal law practice representing aboriginal clients. The panel then invited submissions on whether to hold a sentencing circle for him.
Review: Art in Action: Expressive Arts Therapy and Social Change
By Marian Liebmann
It’s refreshing to see a book which contains many surprising and good techniques using our ‘right brains’ and the whole of ourselves. We spend too much time on ‘left-brain’ activities, planning, writing notes and reports, working out logistics, spending hours in front of our computer screens. This book is about another way of experiencing the world, and of helping many others in the process.
This collection of essays seems to be an outcome of collaboration between staff of Lesley University (in Cambridge, USA and Israel) and the European Graduate School in Switzerland, the only master’s degree course in Expressive Arts in Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding. In fact many of the authors are involved in both institutions.