Restorative justice at OWS
from the post by Stephan Geras on ZNet:
....However these “deeply personalized” new democratic processes will of necessity encounter obstacles and trip blocks which can bring to the surface individual and collective hurt or trauma; or in other words conflict which can obviously be strong enough to provoke violence. What’s referred to as the “cycle of violence” I interpret to mean that violence of any kind is internalized, whether it’s one on one or it’s a result of systemic mechanisms of oppression.
Effective, even alone: Co-keep a restorative justice circle
....Even if you are the only one assigned to be ‘keeping’ the Circle, know that your Circle will be more effective, if you view every person in the Circle as your co-keeper. I say things like “everyone is both teacher and student”. We honor the equal worth of every person, by having that respect and showing it to each person. That plays out into Circles where each person feels and experiences personal growth.
There’s hope even for sex offenders
....So we register sex offenders as surrogate terrorists and post their personal information as if it were bin Laden’s bio on the Internet for everyone to see. Failure to report to police on a quarterly basis earns a sex offender a new felony charge. We ban them from living near schools, daycare centers and school bus stops with draconian penalties for violations. We civilly commit them when they finish their prison terms.
We make sure those are long sentences by stacking charges in multiple consecutive bids. Each image of child on hard drive becomes a separate felony. We give sex offenders special license plates. The police notify the neighbors when a sex offender moves in nearby. The neighbors evict them, or force the landlords to do it for them, sometimes subtly, sometimes with raw violence.
Circles for sex offenders first in the South
Durham is starting the first Circles of Safety and Accountability in the South for sex offenders getting out of prison. COSA will match recently released sex offenders in Durham with a circle of people who will meet with them weekly to hold them accountable and support them in re-entering the community.
Durham County is home to about 300 convicted sex offenders.
Review: A community-based approach to the reduction of sexual re-offending: circles of support and accountability
Often sex offenders are isolated people who have difficulty making relationships, and when they come out of prison the double stigma of prison and the nature of their offence isolates them still more – an extra hardship for them, and an increased risk that they will revert to their previous behaviour. So the idea of forming a circle of support for them is both humane and a safeguard. It does not fall under the usual definition of restorative justice, because it does not include dialogue with the victim, which would in many cases be unwanted and/or inappropriate. It does however restore or even improve the situation of the offender, and it involves members of the community.
The fight room
Today we continue to struggle with other epidemics, such as the widespread persistence of interpersonal violence, structural violence, and violence based in inter-racial and inter-ethnic tensions. Not only is the cost great in terms of lost lives and personal trauma, but considerable resources are also spent on attempts to subdue, redirect, and control the violence. Yet, as in nineteenth-century London, we may continue to make little progress in treating this disease until we are willing to honestly re-examine our deeply held beliefs about its origins.
A restorative circle in the wake of a police shooting
from the article by Andrea Brenneke in Tikkun:
....In the weeks after the shooting, members of the Williams family reported strained interactions with members of the police department, including increased scrutiny and harassment by bicycle patrol officers where they worked and sold their art at the Pike Place Market. Tensions were building. Something had to be done to address the immediate needs for safety and improve the relationship between the family, the community, and the police department.
....There was no restorative justice system in place nor any prior experience with Restorative Circles, so I worked with Kathryn Olson to create a shared understanding of the process we would use to hold this circle. We modified aspects of the Restorative Circle process to address the unusual circumstances. I was able to hold pre-circle meetings with the family members, friends, and community members, but it was not possible for me to meet in advance with most of the police department participants. Instead, I worked with Ms. Olson and provided her written summaries of the Restorative Circles process to share with the other participants in the Seattle Police Department. In all of this, I aimed to stay true to restorative principles and be flexible with the form of how the process unfolded.
Different types of restorative justice circles and a practitioner perspective
Just as there are 12 major markings on the face of a clock, I could list 12 different kinds of Circles. In four basic categories those Circles would be community building – peace building – repair building – and celebration. This also creates a full circle!
A very brief explanation on these four categories, followed by a practitioner perspective. All these Circles use the 4 stages and phases I have written about on this blog. You use good Circlekeeping skills and techniques for each of these.
Restorative practices in Hungary: An ex-prisoner is reintegrated into the community
from the article by Vidia Negrea:
As the representative of Community Service Foundation of Hungary, the Hungarian affiliate of the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), I participated in a group session of the Hungarian Crime Prevention and Prison Mission Foundation in summer 2009 (Sycamore Tree Project — or Zacchaeus Program in Hungary). There I met the governor of Balassagyarmat prison, where inmates were working in groups on issues related to their crimes and exploring ways to repair relationships they had damaged.
Some inmates began accepting responsibility for what they had done and were motivated to make things right and earn forgiveness of victims and their families. Prisoners made symbolic reparation in the form of community service within the prison, but there was still a lot to do to create opportunities for offenders to make contact with victims and shed the stigma of their offense by means of direct reparation. Also, prison management believed it important to support processes, acceptable to victimized families and communities, to help prisoners regain control of their lives and prevent reoffending.
Circulos de Paz and the promise of peace: Restorative justice meets intimate violence
Circles of Peace/Circulos de Paz was founded in Nogales, Arizona in 2004 to address these myriad problems with both the criminal justice response to intimate violence and Batterer Intervention Programs. Circles of Peace is the first court-referred domestic violence treatment program to use a restorative justice circle approach to reduce violent behavior in families in the United States.
The program consists of twenty-six to fifty-two weeks of conferences, or "Circles," bringing partners who have been abusive (the "applicants") together with willing family members (including those who have been abused, the "participants"), support people, a trained professional facilitator, and community volunteers. The goal is to encourage dialogue about the incident, the history of violence in this family, and meaningful change.