- Showing 7 posts filed under: Victim [–] published between Mar 01, 2010 and Mar 31, 2010 [Show all]
Restorative Justice Centre's submission to Ministry of Justice on victims' rights
The Restorative Justice Centre at AUT University in New Zealand has responded to a discussion draft titled "A Focus on Victims of Crime: A Review of Victims' Rights" on how the government might better address the needs of crime victims. Following are excerpts from RJC's response:
9. The central justice needs of victims are submitted to be accountability, vindication, empowerment, information, truth-telling and future safety. Only the first and last of these are addressed (to some degree) by the current legal process, and then only when the offender is convicted. Thus in crimes that go largely unreported, such as sexual offences, there can be no feeling of accountability in the absence of alternative processes, and victims remain unsafe.
10. The remaining four central justice needs are those which Dr Howard Zehr, known to and used by MoJ as a consultant in restorative justice, has said are “especially neglected”. They are next mentioned separately. However they overlap with needs identified by other writers.
More kumbaya, fewer criminals?
Do criminals just need to talk and get some perspective? Yes, the idea seems fluffy, but it looks like some types of talk actually work. "Restorative justice"--in which convicted criminals actually meet their victims--is rapidly gaining ground in the UK.
In one case recounted by Libby Brooks in the Guardian, the victim of a violent burglary wound up shouting at his attacker, telling him "he had crushed every belief [the victim] had that [he] could handle [himself] and protect [his] family." For the attacker, "this was the moment his perspective shifted irrevocably." Despite a history of criminality, he has not reoffended in the past eight years, and is in fact working as a "restorative conference facilitator."
Mugging victim Zoe Harrison 'helped to recover' by meeting her attacker Aaron Burns via restorative justice
When Zoe Harrison first came across Aaron Burns he held a knife to her throat and battered her so brutally he was spattered in her blood.
The last time Zoe, 26, came face to face with her mugger, she left him sobbing for forgiveness.
This is the power of restorative justice - making criminals say sorry to victims.
Parole denied for repeat drink-driver who killed woman
from Radio New Zealand News:
The Parole Board is encouraging the family of a woman killed by a repeat drink-driver to consider a restorative justice meeting with him.
Jonathan Barclay is serving a prison term of five years and six months for the manslaughter of 20-year-old Debbie Ashton, whom he killed in a head-on car crash near Nelson.
Death row lets victims' families down
Most debates about the criminal justice system and restorative justice are criticised for not focusing enough on the impact that violence has on victims and their families. Those objections multiply tenfold when the issue at hand is capital punishment: bring up the subject and many death penalty supporters will say that executions are the only way to meet survivors' needs for justice and closure, and that to oppose capital punishment is to be anti-victim. "What if it was your own son or mother?" they ask. "Wouldn't you want the perpetrator die at the hands of our justice system?"
As it turns out, the truth is rather different. During last week's fourth world congress against death penalty in Geneva, the voices of murder victims' families painted a picture seldom seen in the media. For a variety of reasons, a growing number of families do not support capital punishment. However, all families face decades of legal appeals over the execution of the perpetrator – a truly agonising wait for anyone seeking closure.
After murders, families find a healing path
Note: Forgiveness is a controversial and difficult topic for many victims of crime. Nevertheless, there are victims who are able to forgive those who have harmed them severely. They do this for many reasons -- there may be as many reasons as there are victims who forgive.
After restorative encounters, some victims find that they wish to forgive the offender. This is not the goal of restorative justice, however. The value of restorative encounters for victims is to achieve some measure of healing; in some instances that includes forgiveness. The following article is the story of survivors of two brutal murders who have chosen to forgive.
Four sisters — Ruth, Frieda, Bess and Suzy — have lived 40 years without their mother. Helen Klassen, a Sunday school teacher, was murdered March 14, 1969.
Bill Pelke’s grandmother, Ruth Pelke, was killed by four teenage girls in Gary who robbed her house May 14, 1985.
These acts of violence devastated two families and, for the Klassen sisters, infected the years of their youth. Their path to adulthood was fraught with struggles of how to heal and when to forgive.
On March 15 at College Mennonite Church, Pelke and three of the Klassen sisters spoke about their evolution from fear and anger to healing and forgiveness. Their stories have been told around the world through Journey of Hope, an organization co-founded by Pelke and led by murder victims’ family members, such as the Klassens, who oppose the death penalty.
What role should crime victims play in plea bargains?
Prosecutors represent the state, not crime victims, and they're charged with seeking justice, not convictions. But the Houston Press published a feature questioning whether prosecutors should be required to notify crime victims or get their sign-off before entering into a plea deal. The Harris County DA's Office says "There is no obligation to give advance notice to all victims of plea bargains," a policy which has the Mayor's crime victim advocate Andy Kahan hopping mad.