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Our justice system requires us to punish wrongdoers, what if there were a better way?

from the entry by Mikhail Lyubansky on race-talk:

For those of us living in the United States, “doing justice” is mostly synonymous with administering punishment.  We may not literally follow the Biblical edict of “an eye for an eye”, but most of us still believe that “the punishment must fit the crime”.  Indeed, many of us would be hard pressed to even come up with an alternative justice system.

Yet alternatives abound in the form of restorative justice.

Aug 23, 2010 , , , , , , , ,

Relations of domination and subordination: Challenges for restorative justice in responding to domestic violence

from the paper by Julie Stubbs:

Barbara Hudson is cautious in her approach to RJ: she summarises the appeal of RJ in ‘the openness of story telling and exploration of possibilities for constructive and creative responses to offences’. In the context of domestic violence she suggests that RJ offers the victim ‘the opportunity to choose how to present herself… [to express] her feelings, her understanding of events, her wishes and demands for the future’. However, Hudson recognises that the discursiveness of RJ is not without problems such as the risk of domination and the reproduction of power relations and she emphasizes the need for ‘strong procedural safeguards’.

Aug 20, 2010 ,

Restorative justice

from the entry on Ben's Prison Blog:

The Big Problem with the criminal justice system is that it is firmly wedded to the idea of causing mutual harm - you hurt me, so I hurt you back. That so few people recognise that this merely increases the sum of human suffering and social harm is an indictment on the popular imagination. Or a testament to the resilience of our atavistic urges to lash out at those who hurt us.

Aug 19, 2010

Burglar meets widow he stole ring from in Lancashire

from BBC News:

A teenage burglar who stole a widow's engagement ring and sold it has apologised to his victim saying he felt "bad for making an old lady cry".

The 18-year-old volunteered to meet the pensioner to make amends for breaking into her Lancaster home in July.

The pair met face-to-face at her home and she explained how the theft had left her feeling violated. It came only months after her husband lost a long battle with cancer.
She said she now had some "closure".

Aug 19, 2010

Praise for tabs kept on taggers

from the article by Marty Sharpe in The Dominion Post:

A man woken during the night by two youths tagging his house got up and called police while following the pair as they went on a graffiti spree in Hastings.

Aug 18, 2010

What does tranformative/restorative justice actually look like?

from the entry on the blog Prison Culture:

Whenever I talk about my work with others, I make sure to stress that it focuses on developing community-based alternatives to the traditional criminal legal system.   I add that we do this using a transformative justice approach and lens. Many have responded to me by saying: “that’s not something that I can wrap my mind around.”  This is usually followed by the questions: “What does transformative justice look like?” and  “How would it work?”   Actually I should back up to say that the first question is usually: “What about the violent and bad people?  Surely you are not advocating letting them out of prison!”

I understand the fear that people have of the so-called “unknown.”  People would rather rely on a criminal legal system that they KNOW is ineffective and unjust than to move to an approach that they view as “unproven” and perhaps even Utopian.  It provides them with a sense of safety, however fragile. Hence, the constant and persistent question: “What about the bad people?”

Aug 18, 2010

Archdiocese invites abuse victims to gathering for healing, advocacy

from Rick DelVecchio's article in Catholic News Service:

The Archdiocese of San Francisco is inviting survivors of clergy abuse in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area to a fall gathering for healing and advocacy.

....Survivor Carol Mateus said she has been encouraging such a gathering for more than a year. She said many victims continue to suffer not only from having been abused but also from having been ignored initially by the church.

Aug 17, 2010 ,

Restorative justice, mediation and ADR

from Howard Zehr's article on Restorative Justice Blog:

....There are some significant overlaps in theory and practice between RJ and ADR/mediation: mediation, for example, does require some of the same skills as restorative practices, and some of the underlying assumptions or theories are similar.  Moreover, restorative practices such as circle processes can be used in many of the same kinds of situations in which one would use ADR approaches.  In a broad perspective, encounter approaches within RJ can be seen as conflict-resolving, problem-solving approaches to harm.

But there are also some significant differences, especially when applied to the kind of cases that are dealt with in the criminal justice realm....

In what follows I will outline what I see to be some of the differences between RJ and ADR/mediation.  I am aware, however, that in doing so I am using broad caricatures and depending on the specific approaches, these differences may not in reality be so clear.

Aug 17, 2010 ,

APAC: Brazil’s restorative justice prisons

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

APAC’s approach is opposite to most prisons. Instead of making the people incarcerated in them feel bad, guilty, and like failures, APAC works to make people feel worthy, respected, and able to restore their lives. APAC gives people hope that they can contribute something to help others and that they can be of service in some way, no matter what their situation.

APAC’s restorative approach begins with the name it uses to refer to the people who live in these prisons. Instead of calling the people inmates or prisoners, APAC calls the recuperandos because they are “people in the process of rehabilitation.” The late Insoo Kim Berg, co-founder of solution-focused brief therapy, would have loved this name recuperandos because she recognized the importance of language and how our labels influence behavior and our experiences.

Aug 16, 2010 , , ,

Rethinking the politics of crime

from Greg Berman's article in The Crime Report:

It is fair to say that many American criminal justice officials live in fear of finding themselves in a similar position to Crispin Blunt: out on an island, on the wrong side of the “tough on crime” debate.  This understandable fear has broad consequences for the field of criminal justice. Among other things, it creates a risk-averse environment where both policymakers and practitioners are reluctant to challenge the status quo and test new ideas.

Aug 13, 2010

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