International restorative justice week: miracles and certainty
This week is International Restorative Justice Week. Last week on Australian Story, Kerry Tucker told her story of restoration back into the community after being incarcerated for seven years. She’s currently finishing her PhD and lecturing at Swinburne University. It’s a remarkable story and she’s an inspirational woman. What I found particularly moving about her story was how much of a struggle she found re-entering the community post-imprisonment, even though she is a strong woman with exceptional communication skills, family support to fall back on and educational qualifications. She said herself, ‘After a few days out, I just wanted to go back to prison’.
Rethinking the politics of crime
It is fair to say that many American criminal justice officials live in fear of finding themselves in a similar position to Crispin Blunt: out on an island, on the wrong side of the “tough on crime” debate. This understandable fear has broad consequences for the field of criminal justice. Among other things, it creates a risk-averse environment where both policymakers and practitioners are reluctant to challenge the status quo and test new ideas.
This is a problem that Aubrey Fox and I examine in our new book Trial and Error in Criminal Justice Reform: Learning from Failure (2010: Urban Institute Press). The central argument of the book is that criminal justice officials should adopt a lesson from the field of science, embracing the trial-and-error process and talking more honestly about how difficult it is to change the behavior of offenders and reduce chronic offending in crime-plagued urban neighborhoods.
Don’t take Genesee Justice for granted
The great Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both.” This single phrase to me epitomizes the very essence of how our criminal justice system in our country should operate.
She also wrote, “It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” For 30 years, Genesee Justice has been a pulse that tends to the souls of our victims of crime and to the destiny of the offenders that have perpetrated those crimes.
New law compensates 'cold case' victims
Rep. Renny Cushing said he saw one shortcoming in the bill signed into law last year establishing for the first time in the state's history a Cold Case Unit assigned to work exclusively on unsolved murder cases.
The Democratic state representative from Hampton said the bill didn't address the needs of surviving victims who may be traumatized by the reopening of an investigation into their loved ones death. That is why he sponsored a bill, which became law three weeks ago, that allows family of cold case homicides to be eligible for victim compensation regardless of the date of the crime.
Response by Dr Martin Wright to European Commission consultation document: Taking action on rights, support and protection of victims of crime and violence
The key to this reply is in the last answer: that in principle restorative justice practices should be available to all victims, subject only to the safeguards mentioned in the reply to Question 17. Restorative processes are in the interests not only of victims, but also of offenders and the community.
Victim-offender dialogue is valuable as an end in itself as well as a means to an end. For many victims, action to make the offender less likely to re-offend is at least as high on their list of priorities as monetary compensation or reparation through work. When the victim and offender agree on one of these methods of reparation, it is incumbent on the community to provide the resources to enable offenders to carry them out.
Parallel Justice for Victims of Crime
by Eric Assur
Not too many years ago Restorative Justice (RJ) was introduced, or artfully expounded on, by Howard Zehr. Now we have what appears to be a similarly unique view of the victim of crime topic through new and different lenses. The author, a seasoned and well credentialed victim advocate, and the National Center for Victims of Crime now offer an enlightening commentary and daunting challenge regarding the state of victim services. The book recommends a new way to do business, a paradigm shift to what is now labeled, Parallel Justice (PJ).
Towards a Restorative Society: a problem-solving response to harm
by Dobrinka Chankova, South- West University, Bulgaria:
This is not the first pamphlet or book in which Dr Martin Wright - a convinced victims’ advocate and one of the doyens of restorative justice in Europe – critiques contemporary sentencing policies and penitentiary systems. He has extensively published on endemic abuses of closed institutions and the need for immediate reform of the failing criminal justice systems, proposing a new crime policy, based on restorative justice. Lately he has advocated for applying restorative practices in new domains - schools, neighborhood, community, workplaces, etc. and is leading us to a genuine restorative society.
In his latest pamphlet Dr Wright reconsiders the confused logic on which present policies are based; measures that could make a difference and how a restorative approach could transform people’s and society lives. With his inherent objectivity and scientific precision he pays due attention to the objections to and tensions in restorative justice and how its principles could be put into practice throughout society.
from the entry on Ben's Prison Blog:
The Big Problem with the criminal justice system is that it is firmly wedded to the idea of causing mutual harm - you hurt me, so I hurt you back. That so few people recognise that this merely increases the sum of human suffering and social harm is an indictment on the popular imagination. Or a testament to the resilience of our atavistic urges to lash out at those who hurt us.
Aug 19, 2010 Support
What does tranformative/restorative justice actually look like?
from the entry on the blog Prison Culture:
Whenever I talk about my work with others, I make sure to stress that it focuses on developing community-based alternatives to the traditional criminal legal system. I add that we do this using a transformative justice approach and lens. Many have responded to me by saying: “that’s not something that I can wrap my mind around.” This is usually followed by the questions: “What does transformative justice look like?” and “How would it work?” Actually I should back up to say that the first question is usually: “What about the violent and bad people? Surely you are not advocating letting them out of prison!”
I understand the fear that people have of the so-called “unknown.” People would rather rely on a criminal legal system that they KNOW is ineffective and unjust than to move to an approach that they view as “unproven” and perhaps even Utopian. It provides them with a sense of safety, however fragile. Hence, the constant and persistent question: “What about the bad people?”
Aug 18, 2010 Support
Restorative justice an expansive concept
From the article by Bryan McKenzie in The Daily Progress:
It’s a quaint notion: If we listen to each other and work hard at getting along, we can be one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all — including victims of crime and the criminals who victimize them.
It may be quaint, but the notion drives a group of community activists who plan to hit town to train our citizenry in gathering stories on the state prison and parole system. They hope the stories, to be recorded on small, hand-held video cameras that they will distribute, can build support for restorative justice.