A review of the Youth Justice System in Northern Ireland
One of the most positive developments to have arisen out of Northern Ireland’s recent history is the expansion of rich and varied restorative practices. Restorative approaches have been used to respond to offending and anti-social behaviour, family disputes, disruptive behaviour in schools and children’s homes and in helping prisoners reintegrate back into their communities. Early teething problems have been largely overcome and professional practice in restorative justice in Northern Ireland is now internationally recognised.
I am meeting with the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights this morning.
This is what I will be saying.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I am pleased to have this opportunity to address you and the rest of the committee regarding Bill C-10, The Safe Streets & Community Act.
....My daughter, Candace, was 13 years old when she was abducted and found murdered six weeks later. We lived without knowing the details of what happened for two decades.
How victim rights became a juggernaut shaping spending, laws and the future of punishment
Newly elected as a state representative, Pete Lee hit the Capitol last January fired up with big ideas. The biggest of them all was the restorative-justice bill he introduced shortly after the session began.
Prison Reform Trust poll finding: 88% support restorative justice after the riots
In 1998 the British Crime Survey found that 41% of victims said they would agree to meet the offender, if this was offered to them, and 58% would accept reparation from the offender. In September this year, following the riots that took place across England in August 2011, an ICM poll, commissioned by the Prison Reform Trust found that 88% of the public thought victims of crime should have the right to tell offenders the impact of their crime; 94% believe offenders should make amends by doing unpaid work in the community; and 71% believe the victim should have a say in how the offender should make amends for the harm they have caused.
Texas achieves dramatic results in criminal justice reform
Right on Crime and the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) today released two policy briefs regarding Texas' extensive criminal justice reforms in juvenile and adult corrections. Over the last decade, the groups' policy advisors have been instrumental in working with the Texas legislature and Governor Rick Perry to overhaul the state's corrections system.
"For the first time in state history, Texas closed a prison because we don't need it anymore," said Marc Levin, Senior Policy Advisor to Right on Crime, who also serves as the Director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. "The reforms that were first adopted in Texas have stimulated similar initiatives across the nation in South Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, Ohio, Arkansas, and other states. Crime has dropped in Texas since the changes and taxpayers have saved more than a billion dollars from not building new prisons. We believe these commonsense policies, which were supported by 'tough and smart on crime' conservatives and are outlined in these reports, can serve as an effective model for other states."
An apology is not good enough and neither is a conviction
Accountability is most powerful when an individual fully understands the effects of their actions on other people and not just the impersonal state.
Some did as soon as they woke up the next day, bewildered and remorseful. Bold acts that drew cheers on the 15th were inexplicable and humiliating on the 16th. Even many of those who felt no remorse felt the lash of global village justice in all its forms.
Remorse, no matter how sincere, is not enough. We had a deal: we respected them and they respected us. They broke that deal on June 15 (albeit impulsively in many cases) and a price must be paid. There are strong and widespread views that the criminal justice system is not up to the task because it is too slow and too weak. But another, more apt reason is that it is too impersonal. A guilty plea and imposition of a fine teaches nothing of the harm that’s been done.
Alberta solicitor general to fight for restorative justice
from the article at CBC News:
Alberta's solicitor general is vowing to fight to restore funding for restorative justice programs in the face of mounting criticism from his party and a retired chief justice.
"I will fight to restore it," Frank Oberle told CBC News. "I'm going to fight to restore the grant money next year."
Oberle said he was forced to eliminate the $350,000 grant for the program to reach budget targets.
His department is responsible for jails in Alberta and most of his budget is taken up by salaries where there is no room to cut.
Zeal to punish eliminates a useful tool
....The “conditional sentence of imprisonment” (CSI) was introduced in Canada in 1996 as an alternate form of incarceration subject to specific criteria. It is not, as some assume, the same as probation.
When sentenced to less than two years, an offender deemed not to pose a danger to society is allowed to remain in the community, but with more stringent conditions than offenders on parole. The offender must abide by a number of typically punitive conditions, such as a strict curfew. If a condition is broken without a lawful excuse, the offender may serve out the rest of the sentence in prison.
Unfortunately, conditional sentences for the type of offence Tobin committed — impaired driving causing death — were eliminated in the last session of Parliament, thus ending Canada’s tradition of granting discretion and independence to the judiciary.
The accident last Christmas Eve that killed his friend Alex Zolpis can only be described as “tragic and senseless.” But giving Jack Tobin a prison sentence may well also prove to be “tragic and senseless,” as there is mounting evidence that jail time does not reduce the chances of re-offending.
Victims' advocate says more energy should be invested in restitution programs
Justice systems in the North should invest more energy in developing restitution processes that work, according to a leading Canadian victims’ advocate.
Irvin Waller, a professor at the University of Ottawa and the president of the International Organization for Victim Assistance, was a speaker at Justice for All: A Comparison of the Crime Victims’ Rights in the U.S. and Canada, put on by the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice section this morning.
“We know from the social science evidence that well-organized restorative justice, which includes restitution payments, not only increases victim satisfaction compared to the normal process, but secondly actually reduces recidivism,” Waller said. “There is a real opening here. It’s win-win all around for justice at times of austerity.”
Breaking the Cycle: The Government's response published
On 21 June 2011 the Ministry of Justice published the Government’s response to the consultation responses received to the sentencing green paper Breaking the Cycle. Although some areas of proposed policy have changed – for example in relation to the additional discount for early guilty pleas – the message on restorative justice remains strong.