The hardest kind of justice
In countries throughout the world prisons are about to reach capacity, or more commonly, are completely overcrowded. Of those that do manage to get out of prison, in the case of the UK and the US for example, the rate of recidivism hovers around 50 and 60% every year since the mid-nineties. Meaning more than half of all former prisoners never get rehabilitated, never deal with issues of responsibility, trauma and emotion.
Furthermore, legal systems are flooded with cases creating a bottleneck that causes even the smallest of cases to last far longer than they should. When you add to this situation the astronomical costs of the average criminal justice system, it is easy to see that increasingly, governments have reached a breaking point. On the other side of the coin are the victims. Between the judges and the lawyers the average victim has a limited role in the very trial that is supposed to provide them with some sense of resolution and justice.The trauma that comes with the pain and suffering can last a lifetime.
The power of penal populism in New Zealand from 1999 to 2008
This thesis explains the rise and power of penal populism in contemporary New Zealand society. It argues that the rise of penal populism can be attributed to social, economic and political changes that have taken place in New Zealand since the postwar years. These changes undermined the prevailing penalwelfare logic that had dominated policymaking in this area since 1945.
It examines the way in which ‘the public’ became more involved in the administration of penal policy from 1999 to 2008. The credibility given to a law and order referendum in 1999, which drew attention to crime victims and ‘tough on crime’ discourse, exemplified their new role. In its aftermath, greater influence was given to the public and groups speaking on its behalf.
Interview with Professor Nicola Lacey
Professor Nicola Lacey is a Senior Research fellow and Professor of criminal theory at All Souls College, University of Oxford. She was in New Zealand recently to give the 2010 Shirley Smith Address on the subject of the Politics of Punishment. We took the opportunity to pick her brain.
....Rethinking: Someone said something to me the other day about how if we are going to put the requirements of victims in this process it should be their needs, rather than their wants.
NL: Exactly. You need to have the debate about which needs can legitimately be met by the criminal justice process.
I’ve hit my emotional limit
As a restorative conferencing facilitator, I often receive the brunt of a lot of strong emotions. This happens most when I’m making first contacts with individuals or in the preconference interviews. I can’t count the number of times I’ve called a victim to introduce the programme to receive a twenty minute monologue covering everything from the pain of the crime to their frustrations with the criminal justice systems to questions about how to move ahead.
These emotions are very real and the person expressing them needs to be able to do that. Just recently, I was the recipient of such emotion from the daughter of a crime victim. At one point she apologised for dumping her anger and frustration on me as I was only doing my job. I quickly responded that it was okay, that was part of my job. And, quite frankly, it is a part of the work. Even in what might seem to us to be “minor” crimes; we can encounter very strong emotions from those we are serving. This makes facilitator self-care very important.
Restorative justice, policing and the Big Society
There has been much talk about restorative justice. We’ve seen encouraging pilots and there’s talk about it not only in this country, but around the world. So why is it that something that offers such encouraging results should not have taken a greater hold in our system?
Well, I think it is because we’ve seen evolving over the last few years a criminal justice system that has been very much directed from the centre.
We’ve been through the recent era of targets and what has eloquently been described as ‘deliverology’. The idea of managing from the centre, of close direction in order to try and drive up the performance of public services. This was done for benign reasons, but we all know what the consequences were.
Redeeming the Wounded: New book features new vision for victims’ justice
from the press release at PRWeb.com:
In 2008 approximately 16,262 people were murdered in the U.S., leaving family and friends to grieve the loss. (Source: NCVRW Resource Guide) Many faith-based organizations want to help but do not know how. Due to budget cuts, funding for rehabilitation and educational, faith-based counseling programs for prisoners and crime victims has suffered in almost every locality. A new way to handle these problems is discussed in Redeeming the Wounded by Rev. Dr. B. Bruce Cook (www.xulonpress.com and www.cvaconline.org under “crime victim resources”). Cook’s new vision of victim justice involves a concept of fair and equal treatment for crime victims and prisoners based on principles of restorative justice and restitution.
....Cook’s call to action includes:
Laura's Law: Remembering the victims of violence
by Lisa Rea
Considering gun related violence and its impact on the victims, I remember the courageous work of Amanda and Nick Wilcox in Northern California in the name of their daughter, Laura. A recent press piece describes what they have done to fight violence since the shooting death of their daughter at the hands of Scott Thorpe on January 10, 2001.
No script for the journey
The Virginia Center for Restorative Justice
How does a community establish a restorative justice program? It happens at the local level when committed individuals decide to make it happen. Take the Virginia Center for Restorative Justice (VCRJ), for example, a nonprofit established late last year in Richmond, Virginia.
VCRJ was founded by its Executive Director, Judy Clarke, a woman whose commitment to restorative justice is grounded in her abiding faith in God and in the fundamental goodness of humanity. But this journey began for Judy many years ago when she visited the Richmond City Jail for a day with a group of business leaders who were charged with finding a solution to the jail’s problems.
[More sensible ideas from the US!] Prison reform: A smart way for states to save money and lives
With nearly all 50 states facing budget deficits, it's time to end business as usual in state capitols and for legislators to think and act with courage and creativity.
We urge conservative legislators to lead the way in addressing an issue often considered off-limits to reform: prisons. Several states have recently shown that they can save on costs without compromising public safety by intelligently reducing their prison populations.