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Nigerian lawyers insist on criminal justice reforms

from the article by John Chuks Azu on allAfrica.com:

....Professor Kelvin Nwosu a former Director Academics of the Nigerian Law School had argued that the country's legal system which places much emphasis on retributive rather than restorative justice "has given rise to lack of remorse on the part of offenders who now demand proof of their culpability during trial rather than show remorse."

Nwosu, who was speaking in Abuja during the launch of the book: "Current Issues on Sentencing, Custodial Reforms and The Criminal Administration in Nigeria", written in honour of Justice Lawal Hassan Gummi, the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, wondered why the sentencing and custodial option should be adopted and thereafter public funds are spent again to decongest the prisons.

Sep 02, 2010 , , ,

Restorative justice

from Susan Lee Giles' article on My Roseville:

....When he joined the congregation for a Sunday service they saw a quiet, shy young man barely past boyhood. As they listened to him they finally understood what had happened and at last knew that the church had not been the target of a hate crime. A nagging fear vanished. Now it was clear that the fire was an accident and the boys had emptied every fire extinguisher trying to put it out and left not knowing that an ember would ignite and burn down the building.

The young man listened quietly as each person told him what the fire had meant to them personally. When every person had finished he told them that until that moment he had only thought of it as an empty building but now he saw faces of people, a community, whose lives had been impacted by the fire. He said he was truly sorry and ashamed and offered to come back and work for the church.

Sep 01, 2010 , , ,

Where do we draw the line?

by Lynette Parker

Sometimes interesting things happen when I’m pre-conferencing juvenile offenders with their parents. Often, it’s the juvenile and his/her mother there for the meeting. Generally, we start with the parent being defensive, protective of his/her child. Yet, as we discuss the incident that brought their family to restorative justice, other things tend to come up such as conflict between the parent and juvenile. Sometimes these are related directly to the offense sometimes they are not. I always feel that I’m walking a fine line as facilitator when this happens. 

Aug 31, 2010 , ,

Mandela's children

from Alexandra Fuller's feature article in National Geographic Magazine:

Coetzee does not talk about his childhood. He speaks about the planning that went into the bombing, how he was chosen for his excellent military skills, the years he has spent in prison. He asks for their questions, and the group responds. How did he learn to hate black people? How did he unlearn this hatred? How does he spend his days now? Is he sorry? And if he is so sorry, what can he give them? Coetzee admits he has nothing material to give the world except the leather belt that holds up his overalls. But, he says, God willing, if he gets out of jail, he can begin to attempt to compensate for what he has done. "There are children now in South Africa," he says, "children without parents. They might be tempted to get into violent gangs, to follow anger instead of love." He says, "I can show them that the first life you have to change is your own."

Aug 30, 2010 , , ,

Zimbabwe: Calls for restorative justice must be heeded now

from an entry on Kubatana.net:

This becomes a strong case for the open discussion of what evil has been spawned by political violence and the need for a truth and reconciliation commission so people can move on with their lives. Yet some people in their wisdom think the past can take care of itself by natural processes of time and have been arrogant to calls for a naming and shaming of people behind the raping and killing of wives and mothers since independence.

The question for many is that what really can be expected from the people who are accused of heinous political crime and still control state apparatus that would in essence be in charge of letting the law take its course? So does the nation wait for that epoch when they are no longer in government and then they are tracked and shot down like rabid dogs?

Aug 27, 2010 , ,

Meet the modern high schooler

from the article by Joanne Laucius in The Ottawa Citizen:

....Meanwhile, it's hard to be angst-ridden when you are the product of anti-bullying and self-esteem initiatives. Many high schools have a part-time addictions councillor and a gay-straight alliance. Programs like restorative justice, peer mediation and Online Safety Week bring a sense of justice and consequences to students on a day-to-day basis.

Aug 26, 2010 , , ,

Not Just an Apology

by Lynette Parker

Recently, I read the headline Apologising to victims will not reduce reoffending rates in a Google news alert. I quickly scanned the article. The author was very critical of restorative justice, questioning the possibility that restorative processes could help lower reoffending rates. In describing the criminal justice system, Mark Johnson says, “The job of the criminal justice system is not to be victim-centric but to be detached, clinical and fair.” He goes on to say, “…how can empowering victims cut reoffending? Only working with offenders can do that.”

As I finished reading his arguments, I had to agree with part of what Johnson said. But, I also realised that some of the criticism has a lot to do with a misunderstanding of restorative justice.

Aug 26, 2010 ,

Norfolk police deal with offenders as young as four

from the article by Ben Kendall in Norwich Evening News:

Child offenders as young as four have been dealt with by police in Norfolk using alternatives to court, new figures have revealed.

According to statistics released by Norfolk police under the Freedom of Information Act, more than 500 under-12s are dealt with using restorative justice each year.

Aug 25, 2010 , , ,

Restorative justice vs perfomance targets....

from UKPOLICEONLINE Discussion Forum:

Hello all,

My force are introducing restorative justice as an alternative to court, and this will primarily be aimed at young offenders. Restorative justice has received a mixed reception and was hoping forum members could share their thoughts and experiences from their own forces. I think its a good idea, and a move away from chasing performance targets has got to be a good think, or are performance targets still applied?? any thoughts gratefully received.

Aug 24, 2010 , , , , ,

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 , , , , , , , ,

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