Review: Restorative justice in practice: Evaluating what works for victims and offenders.
by Eric Assur
Three British criminology researchers and educators, affiliated with the University of Sheffield, have offered a very rich book on the use of victim-offender mediation programs (what they call schemes) in adult criminal justice venues in England.
Most early Restorative Justice (RJ) writing has focused on juvenile justice programs, generally with a concentration on diversionary approaches for first time offenders. The Shapland, Robinson and Sorsby book looks exclusively and intensely at three ‘schemes’ and several hundred ‘cases’ involving adults. The criminal justice programs they studied were funded by the British Ministry of Justice – Home Office between 2001 and 2008. They worked with adults at arrest, while going through the courts and even with some while imprisoned.
Letting victims define justice
....There is a growing myth that for victims, justice requires tougher penalties. If only it was that simple. There is no evidence that punishment is as important to the majority of victims as some would have us believe. When asked in one study why they reported the crime, sexual assault victims listed punishment of the offender very low on their list of priorities.
The offer of restorative justice to victims of violent crime: Should it be protective or proactive?
The victims in our sample suggest generalizing the offer of restorative justice to all victims. Themselves victims of very serious crimes, they experienced the beneficial impact of participation in a restorative intervention. However, while they believe that all victims should be informed about restorative opportunities, they emphasize that victims have to feel ready to participate in such programs.
Restorative justice in the community
Michael was 16. He was an angry kid. He spent most of his days just “hanging out” around the neighborhood. One day, Michael was “hanging out” in a small Lancaster grocery store. While he was in the store, Michael pulled a cigarette lighter out of his pocket, lit the corners of a few boxes on the shelves and watched as the flames spread. Then he ran away.
The fire caused $1500 worth of damage.
Michael got caught, and he was sent to juvenile court.
If we think about how the traditional criminal justice system would have most likely handled this, Michael would probably have been charged with arson (a felony), possibly charged as an adult, and likely would have been sent to juvenile detention or jail for some period of time. After coming out of detention or jail, having a felony record would have affected the rest of Michael’s life in numerous ways.
NPR: Victims confront offenders, face to face
from Laura Sullivan's interview with Sujatha Baliga on Talk of the Nation:
BALIGA: Yes. And I said there's no chance. You know, this is not a case for restorative justice. The system is not amenable, particularly in your state. And I can't tell too many details, because we're still finishing things up with that case right now. It's not quite a done deal yet. But we're close.
And the mother of this young man was so persistent and told me that she had actually been meeting with the girl's parents. She and her husband were meeting with the girl's parents, and that the girl's parents actually were the one interested in restorative justice. And she said, Can I give them your information? I said I'd be happy to talk to them and tell you the same thing I'm telling you, which is that this is not happening.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
Listening to crime victims: North Carolina restorative justice conference
by Lisa Rea
When crime victims speak about the effect violent crime has had on their lives you have to listen. On June 9th I moderated a crime victims roundtable during the 3rd Annual Restorative Justice Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina coordinated this year by Campbell University Law School. The roundtable called "Listening to Crime Victims: Their Journeys Toward Healing" was sponsored by the Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing. The four victims of violence who told their stories were Bill Pelke, chair, Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing (Alaska), Stephen Watt, Stephen Watt Ministries (Wyoming) , Bess Klassen-Landis, musician and teacher (Vermont), and Kim Book, executive director, Victims Voices Heard (Delaware). No matter how many crime victims panels I have moderated the stories are always riveting and often what I hear the victims say is new even when I am familiar with the stories. I learn something new as the victims move along in their lives---their own personal journeys.
Victim Support chief addresses restorative justice conference
from the organization's website:
Victim Support describes itself as "the independent charity for victims and witnesses of crime in England and Wales. We were set up 35 years ago and have grown to become the oldest and largest victims' organisation in the world. Every year, we contact over 1.5 million people after a crime to offer our help."
Speaking at the Restorative Justice Approaches conference on Thursday 27 January, Javed [Khan] said: “We have for many years supported restorative justice projects up and down the country. We know that one of the greatest benefits of restorative justice is to victims of crime and that satisfaction rates among victims are particularly high when it is victim led.”
Welcoming the government’s commitments to restorative justice he added: “I want to make sure that these are more than just warm words and that restorative justice becomes a right for every victim who wants it.”
Restorative justice aims to reduce relapsing
....The new Bill will see the creation of a new section within the Probation Services. Its functions would be to draw up a victims’ charter, approved by the ministry, to establish the criteria for mediators’ appointment and to promote mediation between the victims and offenders.
The minister described this move as an ambitious one towards empowering victims and to give them the attention they deserve in the restorative process. Mediation helps victims understand why offences were perpetrated while the offender can take the responsibility of his or her offence.
Jodi Cadman finds peace after forgiving man who murdered her brother
From the article by Cheryl Chan in The Province:
Jodi Cadman still recalls hanging up the phone in shock.
She had just been told that the man who stabbed her 16-year-old brother to death almost two decades previously wanted to get in touch.
"You literally get a phone call out of the blue saying, 'Would you like to receive a letter from the person who murdered your family member?'" Jodi says. "I was pretty shocked."
Restorative Justice Dialogue: An essential guide for research and practice
reviewed by Eric Assur:
Inviting Howard Zehr, known as the grandfather of restorative justice (RJ), to write the forward of this book is reflective of the wisdom of the two authors, both social work professors and founders of peace and justice programs in large university settings. Zehr compliments Umbreit and Armour for writing a valuable ‘state of the union’ book to summarize how the discipline has grown in thirty years.
It is difficult to find flaws in this eleven chapter review of the philosophy, practices and programs which fit under the rubric of RJ. Unlike an anthology or collection of journal articles or chapters written by many authors, this book reflects the smooth writing style, with a few helpful tables and easy to follow figures, of the Umbreit-Armour team. They offer the up to date and well documented wisdom of many subject area experts in a comprehensive and cogent fashion.