Crime and entertainment at Franklin High
When outrage-inducing incidents become media sensations, the authorities respond with the tools they have available. Educators point to politically popular “zero tolerance” policies.
....Police charge the thugs with whatever laws they can find — even unlawful wire tapping — and set the wheels of justice turning. There will be lawyers and hearings and plea bargains, fines and probably time behind bars.
from the transcript on Religion & Ethics:
POTTER: More than two million Americans are now imprisoned, four times as many as 30 years ago. The major reason: mandatory sentencing for non-violent crimes and drug charges. But the war on drugs, declared in the 1980s, has not had the effect its backers predicted. Arkansas Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen has seen the results.
JUDGE WENDELL GRIFFEN (Arkansas Circuit Court): Drug use has not declined. All it has done has produced an explosion on our prison population. The whole mandatory sentencing guideline mantra was sort of like the Kool-Aid that we should never have drunk.
Fearmonger and Through The Glass: Books that undermine Harper's omnibus crime bill
from the review by Matthew Behrens in rabble.ca:
It's a rare event in the Canadian publishing world when non-fiction books line up in sync with current events, but these two titles are perfectly timed as Canadians consider the serious consequences of the Harper government's dramatic omnibus crime bill, one that will radically alter an already deteriorating judicial system.
....Those who'd like an inkling of what could come down the pipe can do no better than read Paula Mallea's appropriately named Fearmonger, an outstanding overview of recently passed and proposed crime legislation.
Prison Reform Trust poll finding: 88% support restorative justice after the riots
In 1998 the British Crime Survey found that 41% of victims said they would agree to meet the offender, if this was offered to them, and 58% would accept reparation from the offender. In September this year, following the riots that took place across England in August 2011, an ICM poll, commissioned by the Prison Reform Trust found that 88% of the public thought victims of crime should have the right to tell offenders the impact of their crime; 94% believe offenders should make amends by doing unpaid work in the community; and 71% believe the victim should have a say in how the offender should make amends for the harm they have caused.
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.
On delivering nuanced messages in a soundbite culture
By Dan Van Ness
"Trendy 'restorative justice' schemes to stamp out bullying at schools 'do not work'," the headline trumpeted. The article by Laura Clark on Mail Online (the website of the Daily Mail) began in the same vein:
"Trendy 'no punishment' approaches to tackling bullying are not working in many schools, a researcher warned yesterday.
"More than 600 schools use 'restorative justice' techniques which allow bullies to escape punishment if they face their victims and apologise.
"But a Cambridge University academic told a conference the approach has been 'widely exaggerated' as a remedy for bullying."