What I’ve learned as a Neighborhood Court facilitator
From the article by Judith MacBrine on The Davis Enterprise:
On June 6, I facilitated my first Neighborhood Court session. I am one of seven trained facilitators. I was drawn to Neighborhood Court because it uses restorative justice principles to resolve crimes — i.e., identify and repair the harms — as compared to our current punitive justice — i.e., identify the broken law and punish the offender.
With all of the problems associated with the criminal justice system — cost, overcrowding, lag time, recidivism, discrimination — I am thrilled to help find another way to justice. I didn’t expect, however, to be personally impacted by the process.
Oakland activist helps troubled young men heal from trauma
From the article by Matt O'Brien on Contra Costa Times:
It might seem strange, to those with a dim view of them, to witness young men with gang affiliations and juvenile records gathered in a ceremonial circle and disclosing their deepest regrets. But for George Galvis, this is the way people are supposed to resolve their problems. Everyone, he said, wants their voices heard.
Joy in the dirty work of restorative justice
....The tension between the study of a topic and the subsequent conversion of ideas into actual work exists in all endeavors, something I have been thinking about as I prepare a training weekend for people interested in learning about restorative justice.
There is a purity in theory, a beauty reminiscent of the idealism of Plato and Pythagoras, that is fun to engage. Working in this realm is a kind of game, fun, yet ultimately empty without the willingness to get out in the world and get dirty. In a training environment we seek to balance this tension in a way that honors both aspects of reality. We want to transmit the underlying principles while also showing how things “really” work.
Community court set to go on trial
A project where ‘community courts’ decide how to punish criminals is to be trialled in Stockport.
….Low-level criminals and their victims will be brought together in front of a special panel, which will decide what community punishment to dish out.
….Rebecca Green, from ROC, said: “We looked at Brinnington as we are already established in the community with the cafe and there needs to be trust there. “The area can be highlighted as having problems so this scheme will have a good impact there.
Could restorative justice bring education antagonists together?
It’s a painful irony for Ananda Mirilli that the School Board run she tried to use to call the community to come together to do better for Madison kids ended up embroiled in such controversy.
….Mirilli, a Latina who lost her bid for Seat 5 on the Madison School Board in the Feb. 18 primary, decided against a write-in campaign when primary winner Sarah Manski dropped out of the race just two days later. But Mirilli hasn’t given up hope that the election — despite Manski’s surprise withdrawal and the allegations of dirty politics and hypocrisy it incited — can yet be made an occasion to bring together people now sometimes working at odds to improve education in Madison schools.
And as the Restorative Justice Program manager at YWCA Madison, Mirilli is wondering if restorative justice principles might be the way to do it.
Retaking our streets: Restorative justice in the city of St. Francis
....The fact that this mindless violence (even though there is a distorted, revenge-oriented gang rationale) is perpetrated by 14-year-old children in some cases, reminds us of futuristic predictions in novels such as “Clockwork Orange” and the like. Killing, for revenge and even for fun, is becoming embedded in the culture, an evil, systemic pall creeping through our streets and into our families and communities and settling there as an alien host. Families in this community live in fear.
"The public wants to be involved": A roundtable conversation about community and restorative justice
When participants were asked to list the goals of community engagement, six areas attracted broad support:
1. Empowering communities
While the concept of giving community members more power is a key ingredient of many initiatives, the nature of the power varies. In San Francisco’s Neighborhood Courts, community volunteers have the authority to determine guilt and can even dismiss cases while volunteers on Atlanta’s restorative justice panels can only adjust the terms of a sentence handed down by a court.
For defenders, empowerment involves education—specifically educating the public about the role of defense organizations and navigating the justice system. “Our goal is to help people understand what we do and clarify our role and to trust us,” said James Berry, of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. “We don’t feel an obligation to promote the police or prosecutors, but we do have an interest in helping people to understand what we do and how we help to balance the equation.”
Peacemaking circles become a way of living on Chicago’s South Side
“Four friends of mine were killed this summer,” Jonathan Little tells a group of college students visiting Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, a kind of peace zone in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood. The young man’s voice is somber but composed, as if he has taken the full measure of this abyss of suffering. He has decided that it’s his duty to honor the dead by methodically pushing on with the work — the quest, really — of finding a way out of the storm of violence that bears down on the young in the precincts of poverty and institutionalized racism on the South Side of Chicago.
Restorative justice at OWS
from the post by Stephan Geras on ZNet:
....However these “deeply personalized” new democratic processes will of necessity encounter obstacles and trip blocks which can bring to the surface individual and collective hurt or trauma; or in other words conflict which can obviously be strong enough to provoke violence. What’s referred to as the “cycle of violence” I interpret to mean that violence of any kind is internalized, whether it’s one on one or it’s a result of systemic mechanisms of oppression.
Restorative justice: making neighbourhood resolution panels work
from the article by Keith Cooper in the Guardian:
The coalition pledge to boost communities' crime fighting power is due to take a big step forward next year. By March 2012, the Ministry of Justice hopes to announce the first group of officially endorsed neighbourhood resolution panels. These will usher in a new era of "restorative-justice", allowing panels of volunteers – including offenders and victims – to decide how low level crimes should be dealt with. Proceedings will be overseen by a trained member of the public instead of a magistrate or judge; lawyers are barred. The panels conclude with a signed agreement to which all parties agree.