Restorative justice for veterans: The San Francisco Sheriff 's Department's Community of Veterans Engaged in Restoration (COVER)
....Veterans represent a rapidly growing segment of the jail population whose characteristics mirror those of the general jail population and include histories of substance abuse, inconsistent work histories and challenges related to maintaining family relationships.
Like most prisoners, they receive few services while incarcerated to address the myriad of health, mental health, and psychosocial issues that contribute to their incarceration and pose challenges upon release. The military discharge status of most justice-involved vets—less than honorable—makes them ineligible for many of the benefits and services offered by the Veterans Administration (VA).
A second chance at Curt's Cafe
Curt’s Cafe, 2922 Central St., is an unlikely crossroads for the two: Trieschmann hires at-risk young adults, particularly those with criminal records, providing them with hard-to-find job training and work experience. The non-profit restaurant is one of the only adult ex-offender re-entry programs in a city that focuses most of its re-entry resources on at-risk youths.
Trieschmann said the road to opening the experimental business was far from smooth, with some neighbors concerned about the business drawing former criminals to Central Street. Still, it’s an experiment that restorative justice advocates and even Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said is worth a shot.
Restorative practices in Hungary: An ex-prisoner is reintegrated into the community
from the article by Vidia Negrea:
As the representative of Community Service Foundation of Hungary, the Hungarian affiliate of the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), I participated in a group session of the Hungarian Crime Prevention and Prison Mission Foundation in summer 2009 (Sycamore Tree Project — or Zacchaeus Program in Hungary). There I met the governor of Balassagyarmat prison, where inmates were working in groups on issues related to their crimes and exploring ways to repair relationships they had damaged.
Some inmates began accepting responsibility for what they had done and were motivated to make things right and earn forgiveness of victims and their families. Prisoners made symbolic reparation in the form of community service within the prison, but there was still a lot to do to create opportunities for offenders to make contact with victims and shed the stigma of their offense by means of direct reparation. Also, prison management believed it important to support processes, acceptable to victimized families and communities, to help prisoners regain control of their lives and prevent reoffending.
Missouri prisons grow 50 tons of food for pantries
from the article on stltoday.com:
Missouri prisoners have raised more than 50 tons of vegetables and fruit that have been given to food pantries around the state.
The Department of Corrections says this year's harvest was significantly higher than last year's, when the agency donated 29 tons of produce through its Restorative Justice Garden Program.
Under the program, the seeds and plants are donated to the Corrections Department, which then donates all the resulting food to local pantries.
Restorative justice and the challenge of prison reform
Crucially, prisoners have to learn to accept responsibility for the harm their criminal activities have caused to individual victims, family and neighbourhood. This largely transformative component is implemented at the beginning of any given prison sentence and is maintained throughout the term of custody.
....Wherever practical and possible, prisoners are made responsible for any financial compensation owed to victims. To this end, a restoration fund may be established and prisoners able to earn money in order to pay victim compensation. This encourages a degree of responsibility in prisoners whilst providing reparation for victims.
Restorative justice for people who are innocent & wrongfully imprisoned
from Lorenn Walker's blog:
Recently, I saw how successfully RJ was used by someone who has steadfastly maintained innocence, and who does not take responsibility for the crimes she is in prison for.
The woman is serving several life sentences for crimes that she has denied since being convicted after a trial about 20 years ago. She was 18 when she went into prison and she has not seen two of her now adult children since then. Most of her children want a relationship with her and she wants one with them. The woman learned about restorative justice in a course we provide* in the prison, and she used an RJ process to focus how she could restore her relationship with her children, and address the harm caused them and herself, by her teenage drug use and her imprisonment.
Prisons, rehabilitation and justice
by Lynette Parker
Recently, I read an article about the struggles faced by the state of Florida after the US Supreme Court banned sentences of life without parole for juveniles who do not kill anyone. In the discussion over the need to revisit cases and re-sentence the offenders, one retired judge was quoted:
“There are no resources in prisons for rehabilitation,'' the former judge said. ``You give him 30 years, and he'll get out when he's 45, what's he going to do? Re-offend. Some people, regardless of their age, need to be put away forever.”
What were they thinking? Horse farms and inmates?
It was one of those feel-good programs that come across reporters' desks nearly every day. This was from the state prison system: "Restorative Justice Benefits Women Inmates and Starving Horses."
Here's what the news release said:
The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services today added yet another to its growing list of unique restorative justice inmate initiatives, putting a work crew comprised of female inmates at Howard County’s Days End Farm Horse Rescue. The inmates, from the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women (MCI-W) in Jessup, will begin with grounds maintenance and landscaping, and eventually move into equine care. “What we try to do with these restorative justice programs is not only give inmates skills and the chance to pay back the society they’ve harmed, but meaningful projects that really do make a difference in the lives of people -- and in this case, horses,” said DPSCS Secretary Gary Maynard.
Only state prison officials forgot to tell the neighbors of the horse farm, as well as the young volunteers who work there. Now, state officials have shut down the program, according to a story by The Baltimore Sun's Larry Carson.
Lessons in transformation: "You gotta smile at the little f…ers"
By KIm Workman
Last night, Maori Television screened the first of a two part programme dealing with the issue of family violence and child abuse. ‘Tamariki Ora - A New Beginning’ was a defining moment for Maori. It showed Maori men acknowledging that the abuse they received as children, turned them into abusers of their own children. But it also showed the extent to which whanau (families) are acknowledging the issues, forging their own solutions, and actively working within their whanau and the community to encourage positive, loving relationships.
I recall in my own marae (*meeting house) , less than 20 years ago, female elders defending a male elder who had sexually abused a visiting school child, as being a practise that was culturally acceptable in traditional times. We all knew that was nonsense, but no one had the guts to face the issue head on. Those days are now well and truly gone.
I wept tears at the programme – but they were tears of joy. From this day on, no one will ever be able to say that Maori are failing to take responsibility for their own behaviour.
Norway builds the world's most humane prison
But how restorative is it?
Ten years and 1.5 billion Norwegian kroner ($252 million) in the making, Halden is spread over 75 acres (30 hectares) of gently sloping forest in southeastern Norway. The facility boasts amenities like a sound studio, jogging trails and a freestanding two-bedroom house where inmates can host their families during overnight visits. Unlike many American prisons, the air isn't tinged with the smell of sweat and urine. Instead, the scent of orange sorbet emanates from the "kitchen laboratory" where inmates take cooking courses. "In the Norwegian prison system, there's a focus on human rights and respect," says Are Hoidal, the prison's governor. "We don't see any of this as unusual."