- Showing 7 posts filed under: Policy [–] published between Apr 01, 2010 and Apr 30, 2010 [Show all]
Will it go 'round in circles?
Even as a 70-year-old grandmother, Daisy Waring admits she's still learning about herself. This lesson, though, comes at a high price.
Her grandson, Byron Lamar Waring, is on death row for the 2005 Raleigh stabbing death of Lauren Redman.
No one talks about it in her small town of Eutawville, S.C. So she kept her sadness and depression bottled up. She felt alone.
Waring first learned about healing circles while attending a conference in 2007 for those like her. The tradition has been used for centuries to resolve conflict and make important community decisions.
Healing circles have helped Waring so much that she travels to Durham every December for an event sponsored by the Capital Restorative Justice Project.
"It really helped me to grow because I really felt empty," Waring said. "Cried all the time. When I leave them, I have hope that it's going to be all right.
"It's an ongoing thing, but every day it gets better, and I'm learning to cope from it."
Judicial system fails in hate crime
from the article by Ian Gillespie in the London Free Press:
....How do you respond when you're targeted simply because you're you?
That's a hate crime -- when someone is victimized because of their race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation or physical and mental abilities.
And while any crime is awful and traumatic for its victims, hate crimes are particularly repugnant because they're attacks against the essence of a person.
That's why last week's court decision involving an attack upon a gay man is so lamentable.
The time for alternatives
Restorative programs were first used for minor juvenile offenders with short records. The programs expanded to include adults and violent offenders. For low level offenders, restorative agreements can serve as the sentence. For violent crimes, like homicide, restorative agreements are simply used to heal victims and offenders.
There are three major types of restorative programs. First, victim-offender mediation (VOM). VOM sessions allow the victim and offender to reach an agreement on how to make things right between them. Cases are referred for VOM by courts, police, or even members of the community. Second, restorative conferencing. The victim and offender discuss the crime and how it impacted each of them. Re-integrative shaming is a large part of the conference. The process is meant to respectfully show disapproval for the offender’s actions and to help him or her reintegrate into society. Third, restorative circles. Circles are open to offenders, victims, their family and friends, and members of the community. Each participant has the chance to speak.
Restorative justice offers a better way to cope with crime
If asked to define “justice,” most Americans use words such as fairness, similar or equal treatment, absence of discrimination, enlightenment, due process and equal opportunity. Yet, when asked what is meant when we hear that someone has been “brought to justice,” Americans inevitably think first of punishment — often severe punishment — that must serve as retribution for wrongdoing. We know that justice is a larger concept than punishment, yet we are mostly aware of a very limited set of choices about what justice means in response to crime.
It has been said that Americans are addicted to punishment. But it is more accurate to say that this addiction is characteristic of policymakers who run on “get tough on crime” platforms that seem to thrive on retribution. Crime makes us angry and afraid, but a number of surveys have shown that most of us want accountability for crimes rather than simply retribution. Of greatest concern is the fact that retributive justice is inherently offender-focused — leaving crime victims on the sidelines of the justice process.
Call the police?
Randy Cohen, The Ethicist, who writes an insightful and often humorous column for the New York Times Magazine, made a good case for using restorative justice recently. He answered a question asked by a restaurant manager if he should call the police on a server who was caught stealing. Mr. Cohen said no! He pointed out the failings of our justice system in clear and undeniable terms. The sever too had admitted guilt and offered to pay back the money.
Instead of calling the police and applying our failed criminal justice system, the manager could have tied a restorative justice intervention. It could have met the needs of both of the manager and the server more than the criminal justice system.
Next year in Virginia?
The Virginia Legislature did not pass the restorative justice bill, SB 679, during this legislative session. As I reported on Indisputably in January, the bill would have given formal structure to restorative justice programs in Virginia and would have specifically allowed a judge to order an offender into a restorative justice program.
The story of why this bill was introduced, and why it failed to pass this year, is an interesting one. The Senator who proposed the legislation, Emmet Hanger, had a personal experience with crime which seems to have left him both frustrated with the traditional criminal justice system and a believer in taking a more restorative approach. Someone broke into Senator Hanger’s car and stole some items. Senator Hanger was not pleased when the traditional justice system did not require the offender to return the items (particularly a leather jacket) or clean up the car.
Towards a restorative society: A problem-solving response to crime
This pamphlet considers, first, the confused logic on which present policies are based; second, measures that could make a difference within the existing range of policies; third, how a restorative approach could make a difference, with a look at objections and tensions as well as benefits; and, finally, how its principles could be put into practice throughout society, using a restorative theory of social justice.
Apr 02, 2010 Policy