- Showing 5 posts filed under: Victim [–] published between Sep 01, 2011 and Sep 30, 2011 [Show all]
Victim offender dialogue
from the article on JUST Alternatives:
For offenders, victim-centered VOD in crimes of severe violence begins with their acknowledging complete and personal responsibility for what they have done. This means being willing to comprehend the impacts of their actions and behaviors, to face and feel a personal sense of accountability for them, and to feel remorse for the full effects of those actions upon the victims/survivors. It means having a truer understanding of the depth of the pain and grief and suffering they have caused.
Victim-centered VOD for offenders is not merely about apology, especially for what can never be restored or made whole again. There are many victims/survivors who do not even want an apology if it is uninformed by the survivor’s experience. They do not want the offenders in their cases to be allowed the “easy grace” of apology. They alone can tell offenders exactly how what happened has affected them, and they alone are the ones who need and deserve to be in control of when – and whether – to receive an apology.
Restorative justice and prisoner reintegration
The offender had already been in prison for five years. He had been convicted of rape. He and the victim had known each other; they had grown up in the same neighbourhood, he had been friends with the victim’s brother, and the victim’s father had been his teacher at primary school. The case, with his agreement, was referred to mediators by the director of his prison rehabilitation programme. He felt ashamed, and felt he needed the victim to hear him admit the crime, since at trial he had denied his role in the crime, under the guidance of his lawyer, and had in fact blamed the offence on the victim.
Where are the personal apologies for the Freedom Riders?
There has been only a single personal apology for the events that happened 50 years ago. Elwin Wilson, a former member of the KKK, drew the first blood of the Freedom Ride when he attacked John Lewis as he stepped into the bus station in Rock Hill, S.C. He traveled to Washington, D.C. in 2009 to find John Lewis -- now Congressman Lewis -- and to tell him he was sorry.
Congressman Lewis described the meeting to Oprah like this: "He said, 'I attacked you, and I'm sorry. I want to apologize. Will you accept my apology?' And I said, 'Yes.' And he gave me a hug, and he started crying. I hugged him back, and I shed some tears also."
"He's the first and only person who has ever apologized to me."
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.
To forgive isn't divine, it's deeply human
Listening to a programme on the radio about restorative justice a few years ago, I was reduced to sudden and copious tears by an exchange between a grieving mother and her daughter's imprisoned killer. The mother, though well aware she would never get over the loss of her child, was prepared, after long and painful self-examination, to offer the killer her forgiveness. He, though well aware that he could not undo what he had done, felt he had been given, through the forgiveness of the person to whom he had caused the most appalling suffering, a chance for redemption. His contrition and recognition of the hurt he had inflicted, a demonstration of the compassion so lacking in the commission of the crime, was an essential part of what had made the mother able to forgive.