- Showing 6 posts filed under: Practice [–] published between Mar 01, 2010 and Mar 31, 2010 [Show all]
More kumbaya, fewer criminals?
Do criminals just need to talk and get some perspective? Yes, the idea seems fluffy, but it looks like some types of talk actually work. "Restorative justice"--in which convicted criminals actually meet their victims--is rapidly gaining ground in the UK.
In one case recounted by Libby Brooks in the Guardian, the victim of a violent burglary wound up shouting at his attacker, telling him "he had crushed every belief [the victim] had that [he] could handle [himself] and protect [his] family." For the attacker, "this was the moment his perspective shifted irrevocably." Despite a history of criminality, he has not reoffended in the past eight years, and is in fact working as a "restorative conference facilitator."
Mugging victim Zoe Harrison 'helped to recover' by meeting her attacker Aaron Burns via restorative justice
When Zoe Harrison first came across Aaron Burns he held a knife to her throat and battered her so brutally he was spattered in her blood.
The last time Zoe, 26, came face to face with her mugger, she left him sobbing for forgiveness.
This is the power of restorative justice - making criminals say sorry to victims.
Calling a circle....
What does it mean when we say, “We’re calling a circle?” In the context of restorative practices I take it to mean that we are clearing a space where community can enter. It may or it may not choose to do so. But sitting in circle is the best we’ve got to silence the din and distraction of daily life and risk finding out that beneath whatever differences we may have on the surface we are connected deeply by what we have in common.
Authentic community is rare and it is safe. It is the opposite of that place we mostly inhabit filled with masks, anxiety, invisibility, power and imbalance. Circles done well open a place for empathy, respect, empowerment, and direct communication for authentic ‘human being.’ Restorative circles are used for sentencing, for reconciliation, for healing, for celebration, for talking and for educating.
Death row lets victims' families down
Most debates about the criminal justice system and restorative justice are criticised for not focusing enough on the impact that violence has on victims and their families. Those objections multiply tenfold when the issue at hand is capital punishment: bring up the subject and many death penalty supporters will say that executions are the only way to meet survivors' needs for justice and closure, and that to oppose capital punishment is to be anti-victim. "What if it was your own son or mother?" they ask. "Wouldn't you want the perpetrator die at the hands of our justice system?"
As it turns out, the truth is rather different. During last week's fourth world congress against death penalty in Geneva, the voices of murder victims' families painted a picture seldom seen in the media. For a variety of reasons, a growing number of families do not support capital punishment. However, all families face decades of legal appeals over the execution of the perpetrator – a truly agonising wait for anyone seeking closure.
Kitchener seniors’ programs get federal funding
from the article in The Record.com:
The Alzheimer Society and Community Justice Initiatives were awarded federal funding for two seniors’ programs.
The Alzheimer Society of Kitchener Waterloo got more than $18,000 for their Memory Fit program, which is a community based recreational program for seniors in the early stage of dementia and their care partners for peer support and social interaction.
Mar 11, 2010 Practice
Can restorative justice become too routine?
I feel a little strange asking this question, especially considering the work of advocates to see restorative justice become more wide spread. But, this is something that I’ve been pondering for a while and even more after seeing a brief news item about a defendant being referred to a pre-sentence restorative process for a “careless driving causing death” charge. The news item is short and I don’t know all the issues surrounding the case, but it gave me pause since the victim who died was the son of the defendant.
I began asking questions about who the victim would be in such a case. As the news item says, the defendant and her family all have to deal with the reality of the loss. While I can see some definite benefits for this family of coming together to discuss the incident and its affects on each of their lives, I also feel for this mother who is “offender” and “victim” at the same time. It just seems that the process will have to be different to respond to the needs of participants.
The real question is, "What's the purpose of the restorative encounter?"