In the society, community and family of Restorative Justice, 3rd National Conference 2011
I have attended 3 of the 3 National Restorative Justice Conferences. I am typing this blog from the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel in Raleigh, host of the most recent meeting. I stayed tonight, the conference ended at noon. Instead of being surrounded by familiar faces, and at the very least, people in orange lanyards, I am here alone. I am feeling lost in a mystery of something much bigger than myself. This is a feeling that only being alone, without lonliness can provide.
My adventure began by picking up Kay Pranis, and traveling out of Minneapolis together. I love Kay, she really embodies the spirt and essence of a restorative justice circle practitioner. We were joined at the gate by Mark Umbriet, and I sat speechless, as the conversation included comparisions of criminal justice reforms, via restorative justice and health care, plant care, food systems and health. I was practically tongue tied as my thoughts drifted from the conversation to the the experience of sitting with these two pioneeers of this movement. They so very humbly, chatted with me about these issues.
Right and proper: Conservatives and criminal justice
from the article in The Economist:
The word commonly used to describe a politician who publicly announces he wants to send fewer criminals to prison is “loser”. But back in February there was David Williams, president of Kentucky’s Senate, speaking in favour of a bill that would do just that. The bill in question would steer non-violent offenders towards drug treatment rather than jail. It is projected to save $422m over the next decade, and will invest about half those savings in improving the state’s treatment, parole and probation programmes.
Mr Williams, who believes Kentucky “incarcerates too many people at too great a cost,” praised the bill for recognising “the possibility for forgiveness and redemption and change in someone’s life”. It passed the Republican-controlled Senate 38-0, and on May 17th Mr Williams went on to win the Republican nomination for governor.
Victims' Commissioner highlights financial costs for families in the aftermath of murder
from the blog entry on Justice:
Families who have lost loved ones under terrible circumstances are facing costs of £37,000 on average as they struggle to pick up the pieces, according to figures released today.
Media toolkit for restorative justice organizations
from the introduction by Brunilda Pali:
Citizens generally do not make in-depth research on important issues, like crime and justice, and scientific research has shown that the public lacks a clear understanding of RJ. Research has also shown that the public relies especially on mass media for information that enables them to make opinions on crime and punishment.
The information transmitted through the media can come from different sources, and RJ organisations should be one of the main sources to provide information. But in order to gain access to the mass media, these organisations must first understand the media, and learn the skills and the techniques needed to communicate with them.
7 steps to stopping violence in relationships
A seven-step tutorial for people involved in relationship conflicts is available online, free of charge, from the Conflict Resolution Information Source. Intended for educators and instructors, the course was designed by the Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Victim's daughter meets IRA bomber: An interview with Jo Berry
On October 12, 1984 an IRA bomb planted by Patrick Magee demolished Brighton’s Grand Hotel in Brighton killing 5 people including Sir Anthony Berry, MP for Southgate and a member of the Thatcher government. The bomb hit on the last day of the conservative party conference held at the hotel. The IRA bomber Magee was sentenced to 35 years in prison. He was released after 14 years under the negotiated Good Friday agreement.
The following is from an interview Lisa Rea conducted with Jo Berry, daughter of Sir Anthony Berry. She did this interview from her home in Macclesfield UK. Jo Berry chose to meet with Pat Magee in November 2000. Today the two work together on many initiatives including addressing peace conferences, giving workshops in prisons, and speaking at universities.
Q. How did the meeting(s) happen? What was the process? Were you, and Pat, adequately prepared to meet? Walk us through what happened.
Working with relationships, be mindful of your own sense of justice.
....An example of justification in a case:
Both parties charged with disorderly conduct. Two young women fought. One threw something at the other, and that “started” it. Further back in time, they were friends, friend A & B. Friend A’s boyfriend cheated on her with Friend B. The friendship ended, the judgements did not, the disagreement escalated, the fight, the court, then restorative justice. When processing the situation restoratively: 1) acknowledge you caused the harm 2) understand from someone elses point of view 3) recognize where you had a choice 4) make amends and 5) take action to change.
Justice program rooted in community, not courts
When the South Dakota Supreme Court decided that the court system should take a restorative approach to dealing with crime, it expanded the system's approach from one that focused solely on the offender to one that considered consequences for victims, Horner said.
Until victim's rights legislation was on the books, victims were often pushed into the background.
Since [the Center for Restorative Justice's] creation, the main goal has been to keep the center community-based, rooted with the community and not the court system, Horner said.
"We've worked hard to keep it separate but connected to the court system," Horner said.
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.