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Violence begets more violence

From the article by Denise M. Champagne in The Daily Record for 14 September 2010: 

People are less likely to hurt one another if they feel they share a common ground.

Getting them to know one another, understand the hurt they have caused and giving them a chance to make things right is part of restorative justice, a growing worldwide social movement that is the focus of several events being held this week in Rochester. The featured guest of Restorative Rochester Week is Dominic Barter, who developed restorative circles in Brazil, one of several restorative justice practices.

Victim Support: The SORI Programme and Restorative Justice

From the article by Own Sharp on info 4 security:

The arrival of the coalition Government in Westminster has prompted some fierce debate about the future of the criminal justice system and the rehabilitation of offenders.

There has been talk about a ‘rehabilitation revolution’ to cut reoffending, while the role of short sentences has been questioned as part of a sentencing review which will report next month.

As part of this debate, ministers have expressed an interest in restorative justice which we at Victim Support believe could benefit victims, cut reconvictions and, as a result, save the taxpayer money.

It’s a concept that has been put into practice in Wales and other parts of the UK, and gives victims the chance to tell offenders the real impact of their crime, to derive answers to their questions and to receive an apology.

In addition, it helps many victims get on with their lives while giving offenders an understanding of the real impact of what they have done, as well as a chance to do something to repair the harm.

Sep 20, 2010 , , , ,

Restorative Justice with stranger or acquaintance victims, different angles apply.

From Kris Miner's entry on Restorative Justice and Circles:

With a masters in counseling and experience as an in-home family therapist I don’t mind taking on acquaintance situations of harm.  I have always believed in systems, and that a larger context of relationships influences all of us.

I am going to highlight 3 major angles to consider when pre-conferencing victims in stranger or acquaintance situations of restorative justice.  The focus of this blog post is specific to victims since restorative justice is victim initiated.  The three considerations are outcomes, relationship context and flexibility.

Sep 20, 2010

Lawyers promote restorative justice & therapeutic jurisprudence

from Lorenn Walker's entry on Restorative Justice and Other Public Health Approaches for Healing:

While a lot of “lawyer dissing” goes on, some of it easily understandable, many lawyers and judges (who are also lawyers) should be recognized for promoting restorative justice and therapeutic jurisprudence.

Sep 17, 2010 , ,

Strategic use of questions, when facilitating talking circles

from Kris Miner's entry on Restorative Justice and Circles:

When you are keeping a Circle, asking a questions is really important.  Setting the tone, role modeling, guiding the process vs facilitating is important.  Asking questions that you pass the talking piece around is a develop-worthy skill.  I’ve learned by asking double questions, run on questions and questions that didn’t make much sense.

Sep 16, 2010 ,

Breaking Florida's school-to-jail pipeline: Alternative approaches to student discipline and punishment

from the article by the Collins Center for Public Policy:

Low graduation rates and a rising incarceration rate in Florida have led to calls for alternatives to the harsh punishments and criminalization of student misbehavior often practiced by school districts. One alternative being practiced by the Escambia County School District offers a non-traditional way in dealing with day-to-day rule violations and disruptive behavior in schools. The Escambia County Alternatives to Zero-tolerance Program engages students, victims, the wider school community and the neighborhood in repairing the harm caused by an offense. Students who break the rules and disrupt the educational process are given a chance to avoid suspension or expulsion by entering the program.

Sep 15, 2010 , , ,

Parallel Justice for Victims of Crime

Parallel Justice for Victims of Crime, Susan Herman (2010). Washington DC: National Center for Victims of Crime. 174 pages.

by Eric Assur

Not too many years ago Restorative Justice (RJ) was introduced, or artfully expounded on, by Howard Zehr. Now we have what appears to be a similarly unique view of the victim of crime topic through new and different lenses. The author, a seasoned and well credentialed victim advocate, and the National Center for Victims of Crime now offer an enlightening commentary and daunting challenge regarding the state of victim services. The book recommends a new way to do business, a paradigm shift to what is now labeled, Parallel Justice (PJ).

Sep 14, 2010 , , , , ,

Restorative justice is not just saying 'Sorry'

Martin Wright's letter to the editor that didn't get published:

Mark Johnson’s critique gives a chance to correct some common misconceptions about restorative justice (‘Apologising to victims will not reduce reoffending rates’, SocietyGuardian, 18 August).  It is not about dragging offenders to see their victims, telling them to say “sorry”, nor making them do menial tasks wearing conspicuous clothing.  It does not humiliate offenders (provided it is done properly, of course);  they are enabled to show that they can do something useful and be valued for it. 

It lets victims explain, and offenders understand, the damaging effects of their actions (and in some cases, such as fights, both have been at fault in some ways).  Both are asked questions like ‘What happened?’ ‘Who was affected?’ ‘What do you think and feel about it?’ and ‘What needs to be done to make things better?’  Victims often ask for an apology and/or reparation, but what most of them want is answers to questions and  action to make a repeat less likely.  This could mean that the offender makes reparation by co-operating with whatever support he or she needs, programmes such as anger management, drug treatment or vocational skills.

Sep 13, 2010 , , , ,

Restorative justice and victims of terrorism

from the executive summary of Ines Staiger's chapter in Assisting Victims of Terrorism:

In Chapter 7, the potential of restorative justice for victims of terrorism is explored. Starting point for developing a restorative justice strategy in the context of terrorism are restorative justice principles and values. These form the basis of the framework for restorative justice at the micro-, meso- and macro-level. The perception of restorative justice is to understand crime first of all as harm done to people and communities. It implies an inherent concern for victims’ needs and their role in the criminal justice system and encourages offenders to understand the harm and the consequences of their behaviour. A further aim is that the offender accepts his responsibility and tries to repair the harm done to the victim. 

....The chapter explores what can be learned from the applicability of restorative justice for cases of terrorism by reflecting on other forms of serious violent crime, including hate crime. For instance, research findings on victim–offender mediation in cases of serious violent crime reveal that the most decisive elements of an encounter between victim and offender are communication, the need for information, and the need to gain some sense of closure. The findings show that most of the victims experienced these meetings as powerful and healing.

Sep 10, 2010

Truth and reconciliation at a price

from the article by Phil Clark on Radio Netherlands Worldwide:

The societal impact of gacaca on post-genocide Rwanda has been highly variable. Gacaca’s volatility results from the enormous number of communities involved, which themselves vary greatly in terms of their experiences of the genocide and the nature of inter-ethnic relations today. Over the last nine years, gacaca has recorded two principal successes and confronted two main challenges.

First, gacaca has proven remarkably successful at expediting the post-genocide justice process, delivering accountability for hundreds of thousands of génocidaires. In the process, it has commuted many convicted perpetrators’ sentences to overcome the problem of overcrowded prisons and facilitated the reintegration of most detainees into everyday society. Thus, the Rwandan government will soon have delivered on its promise of comprehensive prosecutions of those responsible for committing genocide crimes but without recreating the problem of overcrowded jails that necessitated gacaca in the first place....

Sep 10, 2010 , ,

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