The healing potential in Circle, life after death and the wisdom of lived experience
....As part of Restorative Response, a program of SCVRJP, the community can request a Circle. Restorative Response is a program to address healing after un-natural death. For example homicide, suicide, traffic fatality, drug-overdose, accidents that might cause a sudden, unexpected loss.
Research & training has taught us that un-natural death includes additional elements to process. This includes 3 “V’s”, the violence, violation and volition. By speaking and listening to one another in Circle, you can begin to let the process of talking about these 3 “V’s”.
I've been amazed at these ‘life after death’ Circles. Hearing each others stories, reduces isolation, increases understanding and promotes peace of heart. I firmly believe: Circles Heal.
I’m not into remorse
Lots of people will ask me about offenders feeling remorse when they go through a restorative conference. Trainee facilitators will ask whether or not I thought a client showed remorse during a pre-conference. People curious about the process will ask if those who have committed crime actually show remorse. The most difficult conversations occur when I talk to a victim of crime about participating. They may ask if the offender has shown remorse in my meetings with him/her.
Justice? What about understanding?
Scrolling through RSS feeds I saw a link for, “After driving on sidewalk to pass school bus, woman must wear ‘idiot’ sign.” I admit clicking the link to see what it was about. The first line quotes someone as declaring, “Justice has been served!” before going into how a woman had driven on a sidewalk to get around a parked school bus with children on it. The penalty was to stand near the scene of the incident wearing a sign that says, “Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid the school bus.” She will also pay a $250 fine.
Center for Restorative Activism
Here are some basic principles that help to frame what restorative activism is about:
The historical moment calls on us to identify and focus on root causes. I believe the historical moment boils down to a choice between continuation with the life-denying worldview based on separateness, and a life affirming worldview based on the direct experience of interrelatedness. The belief in separateness can be singled out as a root cause of the crises we face and this shows us what we are really up against.
Controversies around restorative justice
....Restorative justice may be poised for a breakthrough into public awareness. It would be a boon for budget-cutting politicians and taxpayers if only the public could buy into it. For example, in the San Francisco Bay Area it costs around $50,000 to run a juvenile offender through the justice system, not counting the cost of incarceration if there is to be any, versus about $4,500 for a restorative process that typically leaves the victim much more satisfied, the young person reintegrated into the community without even being charged with a crime and much less likely to reoffend, and many community members relieved and grateful. Multiply the criminal justice cost many times for adults locked away for years.
Restorative justice and coercion
by Lynette Parker:
Recently, I had a brief Twitter conversation with HMP_Chaplain about restorative justice and coercion. HMP_Chaplain commented on a statement by a Sycamore Tree Project facilitator in England and Wales that “if they make RJ compulsory she will pull out." I responded in a couple of Tweets:
“Can understand...voluntariness is essential in RJ. Coercion can stand in the way of dialogue but doesn’t have to.”
“Also RJ is more than a process its a way of thinking that can inform all interactions with offenders.”
The power of penal populism in New Zealand from 1999 to 2008
This thesis explains the rise and power of penal populism in contemporary New Zealand society. It argues that the rise of penal populism can be attributed to social, economic and political changes that have taken place in New Zealand since the postwar years. These changes undermined the prevailing penalwelfare logic that had dominated policymaking in this area since 1945.
It examines the way in which ‘the public’ became more involved in the administration of penal policy from 1999 to 2008. The credibility given to a law and order referendum in 1999, which drew attention to crime victims and ‘tough on crime’ discourse, exemplified their new role. In its aftermath, greater influence was given to the public and groups speaking on its behalf.
Restorative justice, policing and the Big Society
There has been much talk about restorative justice. We’ve seen encouraging pilots and there’s talk about it not only in this country, but around the world. So why is it that something that offers such encouraging results should not have taken a greater hold in our system?
Well, I think it is because we’ve seen evolving over the last few years a criminal justice system that has been very much directed from the centre.
We’ve been through the recent era of targets and what has eloquently been described as ‘deliverology’. The idea of managing from the centre, of close direction in order to try and drive up the performance of public services. This was done for benign reasons, but we all know what the consequences were.
'Pizza thief' walks the line
From the Los Angeles Times article by Jack Leonard:
If he ever returns to prison, Jerry Dewayne Williams knows he'll probably never get out.
To stay clear of trouble, he has left behind the Compton neighborhood where police knew him and cut ties with friends from wilder days. Once a hard partyer, the 43-year-old says he prefers the company of a mystery novel or a "Law and Order" episode on television.
Williams is one of more than 14,000 felons who, under California's three-strikes law, face a possible life sentence if they commit another felony. But few, if any, grasp the reality of that threat better than Williams.
The world is not as it should be: Punitiveness as a response to societal change
....As a policy, three strikes does a lot more than provide harsher punishment. It also takes discretionary authority away from the judiciary, who traditionally have had the flexibility to vary sentences in response to judgements about the nature of crime, the victim and the offender. In the United States, studies showed a long-term trend toward increasing skepticism and lack of confidence in the legal authorities. This in turn had led to:
- A tendency to ignore judicial orders and the law;
- Greater tolerance of vigilantism or extralegal behaviour of citizens;
- Jury behaviour which nullifies the law.
10 ways to live restoratively
1. Take relationships seriously, envisioning yourself in an interconnected web of people, institutions and the environment.
2. Try to be aware of the impact - potential as well as actual - of your actions on others and the environment.
3. When your actions negatively impact others, take responsibility by acknowledging and seeking to repair the harm - even when you could probably get away with avoiding or denying it. (To craft a letter of apology, see the Apology Letter website developed by Loreen Walker and Ben Furman.)
4. Treat everyone respectfully, even those you don’t expect to encounter again, even those you feel don’t deserve it, even those who have harmed or offended you or others.
5. Involve those affected by a decision, as much as possible, in the decision-making process.