Twenty years of restorative justice in New Zealand
from the article by Fred W.M. McElrea in Tikkun:
As I look back over the last twenty years, the following aspects of the family group conference system stand out as being both innovative and of potential value to adult systems as well:
Review: Walking the talk: Developing ethics frameworks for the practice of restorative justice
While restorative justice is a theory that encompasses a set of values for how justice should be done, maintaining those values and the restorative focus can become difficult in day-to-day practice. People working in restorative justice organisations – whether staff or volunteers – make a myriad of decisions related to practices each day. Such decisions may be related to work with clients, work with other organisations or internal processes and interactions. How can they make these decisions while maintaining the integrity of their restorative justice programme?
Susan Sharpe seeks to answer this question with Walking the talk: Developing ethics frameworks for the practice of restorative justice. In the 62 page publication, Sharpe sets out a process that organisations and individual practitioners can use to develop an ethics framework to empower and guide decisionmaking. In doing so, she avoids the contentious issue of setting standards by developing the steps in a process that each organisation can use to develop a framework that has direct meaning for it and the various issues that it faces.
Law is more than a profession, it's a calling: "Making a difference" through restorative justice
from the article by Michael C. Deering:
Before entering law school, a soon-to-be attorney dreams of “making a difference.” He dreams of representing clients as he advocates for truth and justice, as he lends his voice to those who cannot speak, as he defends the innocent and the young, and sets the wrong to right.
Then, reality sets in. Dreams of justice and zealous representation give way to stress and the everyday rigors of law school. Reading, briefing, and writing overwhelm the student. After three years of arduous work, the student graduates. Facing bar preparation, job searching in an economy that causes seasoned attorneys to shudder, and a mountain of educational debt, the graduate accepts work wherever he can find it.
Crossing the divide
It has often been my experience that restorative justice can span the conservative-liberal divide. Concerns for victims and for reducing the costs of imprisonment are often common to both. The concept of offenders facing up to what they have done makes intuitive sense to many. Values such as responsibility, respect and relationship are often shared along the spectrum. What we mean by these values and ideas, however, and what motivates us to embrace them, are crucial issues.
The lessons to be gleaned from the movement against indeterminate sentencing in the U.S. are instructive. Eventually both progressives and conservatives came together to replace indeterminate sentences with determinate sentences motivated by a just deserts philosophy. The resulting lengthened mandatory sentences dramatically increased the prison population. While there was some confluence of policy positions, the underlying values and motivations of the various parties were quite different. The results have been in many ways catastrophic.