Dan Van Ness
Dan Van Ness has been immersed in criminal justice issues for 30 years, as a lawyer, restorative justice advocate, and teacher. After six years’ poverty law practice on the West Side of Chicago, he worked with a national justice reform organization lobbying for changes in sentencing and victim rights issues. His interest in restorative justice began in 1982 when he met Howard Zehr and Mark Umbreit while promoting expansion of community corrections in Indiana. Dan has worked with Prison Fellowship International's Centre for Justice and Reconciliation since 1996. Dan was a primary architect of the United Nations of Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters. He is the author of articles, papers, and several books on restorative justice, the most recent of which are Restoring Justice, 3rd edition (co-authored with Karen Heetderks Strong) and Handbook of Restorative Justice (co-edited with Gerry Johnstone).
- How should we treat apologies in criminal law?
- Should it make a difference if a criminal defendant apologizes in court? That question raises many others. 1. A difference to whom: the judge, the victim, the defendant? 2. How do we gauge the sincerity of the apology ("I was wrong" vs."I'm sorry I was caught"). 3. Was the apology ordered by the judge or was it voluntary? 4. Does the victim need to accept the apology and extend forgiveness in order for it to be considered in sentencing? 5. If the apology is made before or at sentencing, should it be for what the offender did to the victim or for what he or she did to the government and society as a whole? Or both?
- We live in a relational and moral universe
- At the 2nd National Conference on Restorative Justice in San Antonio, Jennifer Llewellyn spoke of the importance of relationships. “We live in a relational universe,” she said. This is why restorative justice is so powerful – it addresses something real, something that is part of the fabric of life itself. Relationships are core to who we are.
- "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.
- Dan Van Ness: New Hampshire legislature adopts important new victim rights bills
- The New Hampshire legislature has created a victim’s right to access to restorative justice programs, provided for compensation to victims of costs related to that participation, and ensured that these are not restricted to victims whose position on sentencing is the same as the prosecutors’.
- Dan Van Ness: Do it now, the paradigm shift
- In 1988 I worked for Justice Fellowship, the justice reform arm of Prison Fellowship in the US. At the time there were annual staff conferences and one of the events was a talent night. So those of us at JF decided that we would present a rap called The Paradigm Shift to help the entire PF staff understand this thing called restorative justice.
- Dan Van Ness: Indigenous dispute resolution and restorative justice
- It is common to link restorative justice and customary principles and traditional practices of justice. The argument is that the underlying beliefs of customary justice are that justice should repair harm and that the parties themselves should participate in deciding how that is done. These are principles shared by restorative justice. However, there is a dark side to this relationship.
- Dan Van Ness: Restorative justice and the problem of minority over-representation
- Over-representation of minorities in the criminal justice system is a problem around the world. It raises questions about the fairness of the justice system itself and of how larger social justice problems influence the justice system.