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.
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....
A chance to heal unholy wounds
For many years, religious organisations have grappled with the need to improve the ways they deal with abusive behaviour by their own clergy. In my previous role as director of social justice in the Uniting Church during the 1990s, I worked with my colleagues to develop sexual abuse complaints procedures. In that task I gained an appreciation of just how challenging and complex this issue can be.
Restorative Justice in the Greater Manchester Police
....The first of the five aims, to reduce crime, is an area where GMP has had significant success in recent years. A key part of the crime reduction strategy is to “make more use of Restorative Justice to give victims the opportunity to challenge offenders and make them understand the consequences of their behaviour”. In a criminal Justice context, victims are given the chance to tell offenders the real impact of their crime, to get answers and to get an apology. This helps offenders understand the real impact of what they’ve done and holds them to account for it while also helping victims to get on with their lives.
To some extent, RJ runs counter to the culture that developed within police forces in response to central government targets because it can adversely affect the statistics traditionally used to assess police performance. Performance was measured against targets such as the numbers of sanctioned detections (where an offender is charged, cautioned, reported for summons, reprimanded, the offence is taken into consideration or where a fixed penalty notice is issued), the numbers of stop and search events and numbers of arrests. The last of these central government policing targets was removed in 2010.
Restorative justice: making neighbourhood resolution panels work
from the article by Keith Cooper in the Guardian:
The coalition pledge to boost communities' crime fighting power is due to take a big step forward next year. By March 2012, the Ministry of Justice hopes to announce the first group of officially endorsed neighbourhood resolution panels. These will usher in a new era of "restorative-justice", allowing panels of volunteers – including offenders and victims – to decide how low level crimes should be dealt with. Proceedings will be overseen by a trained member of the public instead of a magistrate or judge; lawyers are barred. The panels conclude with a signed agreement to which all parties agree.
International restorative justice week: miracles and certainty
This week is International Restorative Justice Week. Last week on Australian Story, Kerry Tucker told her story of restoration back into the community after being incarcerated for seven years. She’s currently finishing her PhD and lecturing at Swinburne University. It’s a remarkable story and she’s an inspirational woman. What I found particularly moving about her story was how much of a struggle she found re-entering the community post-imprisonment, even though she is a strong woman with exceptional communication skills, family support to fall back on and educational qualifications. She said herself, ‘After a few days out, I just wanted to go back to prison’.
Churches grapple with whether to welcome convicted sex offenders
"All are welcome" is a common phrase on many a church sign and Web site. But what happens when a convicted sex offender is at the door?
Church officials and legal advocates are grappling with how -- and whether -- people who have been convicted of sex crimes should be included in U.S. congregations, especially when children are present:
True community policing means restorative justice
Community Policing has become one of those "assumed good things" that we all are supposed to support. But what do we mean by community policing? Does it mean we should be happy with just having a police officer at a community meeting, or on the street? Is a beat cop the whole story? Is there a role for the community beyond being informants?
My view of Community Policing has to do with merging community values and existing statues. Local communities need to be involved in helping community youth become aware and understand what is acceptable and what is not.
Community justice: Not to you or for you, but with you
by Christa Pierpont. This is a selection of an article from a special online complement to the Summer 2008 issue of ACResolution, Vol 7, Issue 4. The Association for Conflict Resolution has given permission for it to be used on RJOnline. The complete article is attached.
....The “magic” of restorative practices comes from a principled belief that when there is a breach in relationships, people can re-story their lives (often in gifted ways), given an active and supported responsibility to do so. It is clear from the research report, Restorative Justice: The Evidence, (Lawrence W. Sherman and Heather Strang, Smith Institute, 2007) that individuals can transcend large and small wrongs in a highly satisfactory way with improved long-term consequences when restorative practices are used. Our next question was: Could this opportunity be expanded from individuals to a wider sense of cultural harms?
In particular, could restorative processes begin to address underlying racial anger and fears in our region without exacerbating negative economic realities? These questions grew out of dynamics we were discovering as we explored the history of public school education in Virginia. When the RCF studied school disciplinary statistics for public schools, we found a significantly higher rate of disciplinary action for low-income and minority youth. Efforts are now being made to reduce out-of-classroom placements and to transition to more restorative disciplinary practices, but it will take decades and funding to re-build skills for individuals who have given up on the public school system.
Why is it important for people of faith to be involved in domestic violence work?
from the Renewal House blog entry:
A reporter from the Boston Herald asked me that question yesterday afternoon. The reporter is working on an article highlighting the Restorer’s Ministry, a new hotline led by three women from the Grace of All Nations Church in Dorchester. We have been supporting the training needs of the three as they seek to live out their call to serving individuals and families struggling with issues of domestic violence in their community.
Harvard scholar versus Cambridge police
by Lisa Rea
Most of us have heard all about the police incident in Cambridge, Massachusetts, home of Harvard Square. A Harvard scholar by the name of Henry Louis Gates was arrested at his home after a neighbor called the police concerned someone was breaking into the house. This occurred at 12:30pm after Gates had just returned to his home from an international flight to China.