- Showing 3 posts filed under: Politics [–] published between May 01, 2010 and May 31, 2010 [Show all]
Coalition can break from failed justice policy (England)
What strikes you most about the new justice policy outlined in the coalition programme for government is the absence of rhetoric. The new watchwords are moderation, common sense and effectiveness. As an example: everyone knows that drugs and drink fuel crime and antisocial behaviour – so let's deal with addictions and binge-drinking in a way that reduces harm and cuts costs. The coalition government appears to be taking the opportunity to break with the failed legacy of vacuous prison-building and instead concentrate on what works in justice policy.
What if ... restorative justice?
Restorative justice (RJ) programs may serve as an effective alternative for handling many criminal offences. RJ originated in indigenous communities where conflicts between individuals were handled in a holistic and collaborative manner, instead of a top-down, linear approach. According to this method, crimes are interpreted as unhealthy actions and symptoms of unhealthy relationships. Thus, group arbitration attempted to heal.
Today, RJ programs come in many different shapes and sizes, all paying much deference to the impact a criminal offense makes upon victims and the larger community. RJ offers a mediation platform that allows the offender, victim, community members, and government actors a role in arbitrating the conflict.
Victims are given the chance to articulate to offenders the ways in
which they were hurt by the crime. This is an opportunity that they
often are not afforded in our current court process, and one reason why
the majority of victims find the current justice system unsatisfactory.
After hearing the victim, offenders have to acknowledge the harm they
have caused; they cannot escape the impact they have made on victims,
and thus are unable to shift the guilt away. Offenders are able to
describe their motivations for offending as well as the circumstances
surrounding their offense.
By giving community members a role in arbitration, the community is
able to establish boundaries while also offering support. The community
is also made aware of the way in which it might have failed both the
victim and offender in allowing the conflict to take place. When
community members are active in the adjudication process, offenders face
less stigma and have a better chance reintegrating.
After victims, offenders and community members have been given the chance to describe what the offense meant to them, the dialogue focuses on restitution. The offender is made responsible for restoring the victim to the best of their abilities. Obviously, this means something different for every crime and every victim.
UK restorative justice pre-election special report from Restorative Justice Consortium
from RJC's April e-Bulletin:
In the first televised election debate the party leaders were asked how they will make our country a safer place to live and work. Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “What I’ve seen in my city of Sheffield is that you get these youngsters not when they have done serious crimes, when they are first starting to get into trouble to face their victims, explain why they have done what they have done to their victims, apologise for what they’ve done, make up for what they have done in the community, cleaning up parks and streets. It has a dramatic effect on their behaviour. I want to change people’s behaviour before they become the criminals of tomorrow.” (ITV Player 19mins:16sec)