Review: Walking the talk: Developing ethics frameworks for the practice of restorative justice
While restorative justice is a theory that encompasses a set of values for how justice should be done, maintaining those values and the restorative focus can become difficult in day-to-day practice. People working in restorative justice organisations – whether staff or volunteers – make a myriad of decisions related to practices each day. Such decisions may be related to work with clients, work with other organisations or internal processes and interactions. How can they make these decisions while maintaining the integrity of their restorative justice programme?
Susan Sharpe seeks to answer this question with Walking the talk: Developing ethics frameworks for the practice of restorative justice. In the 62 page publication, Sharpe sets out a process that organisations and individual practitioners can use to develop an ethics framework to empower and guide decisionmaking. In doing so, she avoids the contentious issue of setting standards by developing the steps in a process that each organisation can use to develop a framework that has direct meaning for it and the various issues that it faces.
Walla Walla prison restorative dialogue
From the article by Lorenn Walker on the Restorative Practices Blog:
Colleen Shapel’s husband Bob, who was also her best friend for most of her life, was senselessly murdered in a February 2004 robbery. Melissa, Colleen’s oldest daughter, and William Schorr, a co-defendant who plead guilty to the murder, also participated in the restorative dialogue (another defendant who was determined to be most responsible for the murder refused to participate).
After I was first contacted, and until the dialogue was finally conducted six months later in July, I spoke on the phone with Colleen, Melissa and William frequently. I met Colleen and Melissa in person several times a few days, and William a few hours, before the dialogue.
I felt my job was to mainly listen to their pain, and simply be present with them in their suffering.
Child Justice Act undercut from within
Even before it began the rocky climb through the parliamentary process, the Child Justice Bill was considered to be internationally path-breaking legislation. It was born in the euphoria of the early 1990s in a country where youth had been considered politically lethal, whipping was a sentence, imprisonment the standard response to wrongdoing and torture considered a legitimate interrogation method.
The new legislation sought to provide restorative justice by diverting child offenders from this punitive justice system and keeping them out of prisons, which simply hardened criminality. It devised ways to work with offenders and victims to restore harmony in the community where the crime took place. Punishment would be tailored to the crime and dealt in a way that maintained the self-respect of the offender as well as the approval of both community and victim.
Alternatives for juveniles in Bulgaria
Recently I provided restorative conferencing training for Prison Fellowship Bulgaria (PF Bulgaria) and several of its partner agencies. The twenty participants represented different public and non-governmental organisations including the Department for Child Protection, the Anti-bullying Commission of Vratsa, the Cultural Centre of Vratsa, the Probation Department, Caritas- Ruse and PF Bulgaria.
They are part of a new juvenile justice initiative being led by PF Bulgaria and Caritas-Ruse to introduce alternatives for working with at-risk youth. The project, “Active communities in the prevention of the institutionalisation of children and juvenile offenders,” offers several services for young people coming from difficult home situations and for those who have committed crime. It is being implemented in the Bulgarian cities of Vratsa and Ruse.
Elements of attitude, for effective Circle-keeping
Elements of attitude . . .
. . . for effective Circle-keeping
- We above me. Carefully consider that you are leading a group process. Pay attention to the social and emotional climate of all members in the group. Put aside your needs, and focus on the needs of the collective.
Practitioner Register launched in UK
The Restorative Justice Council (RJC) has launched a new Practitioner Register. This has been a long time in coming – the RJC worked since 2004 on Best Practice Guidance, which finally in 2010 formed the basis for National Occupational Standards (National Occupational Standards exist across all sectors in the UK, so are a benchmark of skills and knowledge).
Based on this we have now been able to develop Practitioner Registration. Pracititioners will be able to register with the RJC either by taking an award based on the National Occupational Standards (an award that assesses both their knowledge and their skills on the job) or by providing a portfolio of evidence to us that their practice meets the National Occupational Standards.
Victim offender dialogue
from the article on JUST Alternatives:
For offenders, victim-centered VOD in crimes of severe violence begins with their acknowledging complete and personal responsibility for what they have done. This means being willing to comprehend the impacts of their actions and behaviors, to face and feel a personal sense of accountability for them, and to feel remorse for the full effects of those actions upon the victims/survivors. It means having a truer understanding of the depth of the pain and grief and suffering they have caused.
Victim-centered VOD for offenders is not merely about apology, especially for what can never be restored or made whole again. There are many victims/survivors who do not even want an apology if it is uninformed by the survivor’s experience. They do not want the offenders in their cases to be allowed the “easy grace” of apology. They alone can tell offenders exactly how what happened has affected them, and they alone are the ones who need and deserve to be in control of when – and whether – to receive an apology.
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.
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.
To teach Restorative Justice, have “treats” repair harm and remember best practices
....A few of the practices I use to enhance the “Restorative-ness” of teaching Restorative Justice:
4 stages of Circle. Each class/CIRCLE includes an open and close, a getting acquainted question, a building relationship question and for our issue, we talked course content. The taking action phase of the Circles was the “check-out”, “take away” or “reflection” on the class period. One thing I remember, is that college students seemed to enjoy original thought. We would have different aspects of the class time, or different perspectives presented when we did this ending. It also allowed for students to relate to each other and have a different understanding on the topic taught that day. The students taught each other what they learned.