Can forgiveness play a role in criminal justice?
….Baliga laid out the ground rules: Campbell would read the charges and summarize the police and sheriff’s reports; next the Grosmaires would speak; then Conor; then the McBrides; and finally Foley, representing the community. No one was to interrupt. Baliga showed a picture of Ann, sticking out her tongue as she looks at the camera. If her parents heard anything Ann wouldn’t like, they would hold up the picture to silence the offending party. Everyone seemed to feel the weight of what was happening. “You could feel her there,” Conor told me.
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.
Who are you? Karen Lang
"Imagine you are shopping at Garden City - you are trying to find an appropriate jumper for your daughter. It has to have a high neck. Something that will compliment her blonde hair and fair skin. You know she would want to look her best. Finally you find a soft mauve high neck jumper, you know it will look beautiful on her. You clutch your purchase and contain yourself till you reach your car - where you break into sobs. The jumper is for your daughter to wear in the casket - there will be a viewing and the high neck is to cover her wounds. You will never shop at Garden City again without thinking of her. Imagine." - Karen Lang
Father of Adam Rogers meets son’s teenage killer in prison
Adam Rogers’s father and his teenage killer have come face to face in an ‘emotional’ prison meeting.
.... Dave Rogers who has campaigned with wife Pat for an end to senseless violence in their 24-year-old son’s memory, said he would recommend the ‘restorative justice’ process to other grieving families.
Five years later, Amish grace still flowing from Nickel Mines
Just hours after Charles Carl Roberts IV shot and killed five Amish girls and injured five others on Oct. 2, 2006, in a Nickel Mines schoolhouse, the Amish responded in a way that amazed the world — with forgiveness.
For the Amish, forgiveness is not only a dutiful response to tragedy, it is a way of life — a long, emotional journey. Though the gaze of outsiders has moved on, Amish grace continues to flow in seemingly unimaginable yet strikingly ordinary ways throughout Lancaster County.
The fifth anniversary of the Oct. 2 tragedy provided the backdrop for a Sept. 22 conference, “The Power of Forgiveness: Lessons from Nickel Mines.”
A little girl's memories stir questions about good and evil: Terror in a small town
....I first met Rebecca a year ago, after writing a story about a man who survived his family's massacre. She told me she had a similar tale to share.
It began with death threats over the phone, she said, then letters and drive-by shootings. The church and parsonage were bombed -- 10 times to be precise.
The terror stretched on for more than six years.
Neither local nor state nor federal lawmen were able to stop the assaults. It ended in the parsonage, three days before Easter in 1978, as the family sat down to dinner.
Murderers turned peacemakers
How is it that women, with dark pasts, serving time for murder and manslaughter, could possibly become honored peacemakers?
Their story is one of personal commitment to themselves and the community in which most are destined to live out their lives. “This is an environment filled with conflict and violence. There is a dire need and want for change,” says Susan Russo, one of the fifteen initial peacemakers, serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole at the largest prison for women in the world, Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, CA. “Mediation interests all of us because we are lifers and long-termers hoping to make a difference in teaching our peers that there is a better way.”
Beginning her quest in 2007, Sue Russo wrote over 50 handwritten letters from prison to mediators all over California. Her letters went unanswered until August of 2009 when one of her letters made it to me, Laurel Kaufer, Esq., a Southern California mediator and peacemaker and founder of the post-Katrina Mississippi Mediation Project.
NPR: Victims confront offenders, face to face
from Laura Sullivan's interview with Sujatha Baliga on Talk of the Nation:
BALIGA: Yes. And I said there's no chance. You know, this is not a case for restorative justice. The system is not amenable, particularly in your state. And I can't tell too many details, because we're still finishing things up with that case right now. It's not quite a done deal yet. But we're close.
And the mother of this young man was so persistent and told me that she had actually been meeting with the girl's parents. She and her husband were meeting with the girl's parents, and that the girl's parents actually were the one interested in restorative justice. And she said, Can I give them your information? I said I'd be happy to talk to them and tell you the same thing I'm telling you, which is that this is not happening.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
After the crime: the power of restorative justice. Dialogues between victims and violent offenders
Violence, rape, murder and other abusive crimes: not usually pleasant subjects to read about, yet Susan Miller's book left this reader with a positive feeling. This is largely due to Miller herself, who presents the information in a straightforward, sympathetic but non-judgemental way; to Kim Book, who started the organization Victims' Voices Heard after her daughter was murdered; and to the participants themselves. Not all victims felt able to forgive, and this should not be a criterion for 'success'; but they followed the Amish precept: don't balance hurt with hate. Not all offenders accepted full responsibility. Miller divides restorative justice into diversion, taking the place of the criminal justice process for relatively minor cases, and 'therapeutic' RJ, where the offender is already in custody or has served a prison term. These cases are all in the latter category.
Listening to crime victims: North Carolina restorative justice conference
by Lisa Rea
When crime victims speak about the effect violent crime has had on their lives you have to listen. On June 9th I moderated a crime victims roundtable during the 3rd Annual Restorative Justice Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina coordinated this year by Campbell University Law School. The roundtable called "Listening to Crime Victims: Their Journeys Toward Healing" was sponsored by the Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing. The four victims of violence who told their stories were Bill Pelke, chair, Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing (Alaska), Stephen Watt, Stephen Watt Ministries (Wyoming) , Bess Klassen-Landis, musician and teacher (Vermont), and Kim Book, executive director, Victims Voices Heard (Delaware). No matter how many crime victims panels I have moderated the stories are always riveting and often what I hear the victims say is new even when I am familiar with the stories. I learn something new as the victims move along in their lives---their own personal journeys.