Restorative justice is the law
by Dan Van Ness
Heartspeak Productions is a remarkable Canadian group that describes itself as "on a continual quest to learn about & share the principles and best practices of restorative justice." It does this by creating excellent videos exploring dimensions of restoration. Fraser Community Justice Initiatives Association is a community NGO also in Canada that for 25 years has developed programs and training that help people in conflict find good resolutions.
Face to Face
The film deals with the restorative justice system that follows a young bloke deliberately rear-ending his boss's car.
It is is based on a play of the same name by Australian playwright and screenwriter David Williamson, who was in turn inspired by real-life restorative justice sessions.
Rymer said, ''When I read the play, I laughed, I cried. I couldn't believe that I could ever care so much about such an ordinary scenario.''
Aug 31, 2011 Video Review
Restorative Justice: Rooted in Respect
Reviewed by Lynette Parker
In Restorative Justice: Rooted in Respect, restorative justice practitioners and writers discuss the values and applications of the concepts. The 26-minute video starts with the following definition of restorative justice.
“Restorative justice provides a framework and approach to ensure all people are treated with dignity and respect as we seek to live in community with one another.
“The approaches empower us to be responsible for our actions and provide ways of holding one another accountable as we live and work together.”
Forgiveness: Human or Divine?
Earlier this month the film As We Forgive, a documentary about Rwanda, was released on DVD (check out the trailer here). It does not chronicle the 1994 genocide, but what has come after: Rwanda's struggle to rebuild itself.
Video Review: Concrete Steel & Paint
by Kate Strong
The documentary tells about the thorny evolution of an art project meant to unite inmates and the community, which started as a mere sketch of an idea in the minds of the inmates of Graterford State Prison.
By law, the inmates at Graterford State Prison must have their identities concealed when they appear in the media. So behind the iron bars of the law, two inmates speak. We see Tom's hands, the glint of his glasses as they dip in and out of the camera frame trained on his stubbly chin, the white shirt peeking out of his maroon jumper, as he expresses a sense of powerlessness in being able to make reparations.
Zafir has a beard, cornrows, a steady voice, and he laughs humorlessly as he tries to convey how far prison life is from life in the unincarcerated world. Tom and Zafir are people, but people obscured even in art by their status as inmates. We never see his eyes as Zafir says, "I don't want my legacy to be that I was just a murderer. I do have something to contribute. I'm still a human being, here I am." These words come over an image of Zafir's fingers, painting the face of a young child with one hand while the other grips the photograph of a girl.
Sep 02, 2009 Video Review
Video Review: The Transformation of West Philadelphia High School: A Story of Hope
by Kate Strong
A troubled high school in Philadelphia undergoes a radical turn-around after restorative practices transform the whole climate of the school.
The DVD is the visual equivalent of a newspaper article: there is little ornamentation and even littler excess. The story presented is simple: West Philadelphia High School had been on the "persistently dangerous" list for six years because of the violence and crime that had plagued the school.
Then, as an attempt to thoroughly transform the school from its bones to its behavior, they introduced restorative practices, including conferencing training and circles for dispute resolution. Within the first year, the crime rate was down by 52%. The next year, the crime rate had dropped another 45%.
Video Review: On the Road Together: Teen Driving
by Kate Strong
In conjunction with the St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program, a man and a family tell about their experiences with automobile crashes to try and help teens understand the impact that driving accidents have on everyone.
"On the Road Together: Teen Driving" explores the dangerous world of distracted driving in the hopes of reducing the rate of teenage accidents. The program presents two similar but divergent stories.
Jeff Geslin was driving in his hometown when he got distracted, ran a stop sign, and struck another car. As a result, both the other driver and Jeff's passenger and friend Adam died. A few weeks later, Jeff was charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter.
Aug 27, 2009 Video Review
Video Review: The Amy Wall Story
By Kate Strong
When a drunk driver hit the car driven by seventeen year old Amy Wall, her family was plunged into grief. For Joe Avila, the man driving the car that killed Amy, the days following were filled with despair as he awaited the court proceedings. Yet, a meeting between Joe and Amy's family organised by the Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program out of Fresno, California, helped them both find the peace they so desperately needed.
This video, recorded at the 2009 Restorative Justice Conference held at Fresno Pacific University, allows Joe Avila and Derrick Wall tell their stories of the crime, meeting with each other, and healing.
Aug 10, 2009 Video Review
Video Review: An Introduction to Restorative Practices at Endeavour High School
by Kate Strong
This video describes the positive results of restorative practices implemented in a school with behavioral and performance problems in England.
Endeavour High School in Hull, England, had a very bad reputation in its community and the larger educational system. In addition, socioeconomic conditions made it difficult for students to participate positively in their school.
The administration decided the best way to address both problems was to institute restorative practices, citing that the traditional ways simply were not working. The community, students, and teachers were skeptical at first. But after eighteen months, the results have been very positive. There is a greater sense of community in the school, the students have learned how to build real relationships with each other, and overall behavior has improved.
Video Review: The Meaning of Life
by Kate Strong
Director: Hugh Brody. Face to Face Media in collaboration with the University of Fraser Valley, 2008.
Several inmates at an experimental prison in Canada relate the stories of their lives both in and out of prison, focusing particularly on what they think of the restorative justice practices modeled at the prison.
Kwixwekwelhp, a minimum-security prison in British Columbia, is unlike any other prison in Canada, and the inmates know it. Shots of a Vancouver winter, frozen and minimally abundant, counterpoint one man's sentiment that at this prison the only fence is one to keep the inmates from falling into the creek.
Correctional Services Canada partnered ten years ago with Chehalis, a local Aboriginal community, to implement traditional Aboriginal practices that focus on healing as an alternative to the retributively-minded general criminal system. These Aboriginal spiritual practices underlie the entire prison. No inmate needs to conform to Aboriginal spirituality but he does need to have respect for it. The inmates are allowed to go into Chehalis to form connections with people outside the prison, do community service, and participate in ritual ceremonies.
Aug 07, 2009 Video Review
"Livability Crime" video review
By Dan Van Ness
Livability Crime. Restorative Justice Community Action. 7:08 minutes.
This brief You Tube video describes a programme in Minneapolis operated by a local nonprofit organization called Restorative Justice Community Action (RJCA) in cooperation with the courts.
When defendants are charged with “livability crimes” (drugs dealing, alcohol use, prostitution, vandalism, noise, disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, public urination and littering) the court offers them the opportunity to meet with community members instead in a community conference.