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County can take the lead in ensuring juvenile justice

from Gregg Volz's commentary in

The Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice report on the Luzerne County judicial scandal revealed a multi-systemic failure. Juvenile offenders – some as young as 12– were taken from their parents and placed in detention facilities for weeks, sometimes months, for extremely minor offenses. To put these youth in juvenile detention for minor transgressions at a cost of several hundred dollars a day for months on end is unconscionable public policy.

The report outlines both a virtual breakdown in all three branches of government and a system plagued by tension between those who wanted the juvenile justice system to punish misconduct and those who wanted it to teach youth how to avoid repeating bad behavior. Also at fault, according to the report, “is the fact that there exists an inaccurate perception about the children who come into the juvenile courts.” While some accounts conjure up images of “juvenile predators” or “gang leaders,” our juvenile courts generally deal with less serious conduct – cases that reflect common immaturities among juveniles.

Jul 08, 2010 , ,

UK Coalition: A revolution in justice?

from Jonathan Bartley's entry in OurKingdom:

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke’s announcement of a ‘Rehabilitation Revolution’ along with the acceptance that prison isn’t working, will have come a surprise to many. It is of course self-evident that the system is broken. Being able to admit as much however, is the luxury of a politician who has not been in office for over a decade.

....His latest speech is also significant because of his pledge to “re-think from first principles” what the justice system should be all about.

Until now the way we think about criminal justice has been shaped first and foremost by the prison. Criminal justice is primarily retributive. It is about punishment, with a little bit of rehabilitation thrown in for good measure.

Jul 08, 2010

About restorative justice

from the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Department of Justice and Community Security:

Restorative justice (RJ) is a structured process that allows the exchange of information between the people most affected by an offence – the victim, their family and friends and the offender and their family and friends. This process gives people the opportunity to talk about three very important questions:

  • What happened?
  • How were people affected?
  • What needs to be done to make things better?

Jul 07, 2010 ,

Students train to facilitate justice program

from Kari Keller's article in the Longmont Times:

On Tuesday morning, five Longmont High School students met at Teaching Peace to be trained as student team facilitators for their school’s restorative justice program.

This is the first year that Teaching Peace plans to use a student team to help handle the restorative justice program in schools.

Jul 07, 2010 ,

Lawyers as Peacemakers: Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law

Lawyers as Peacemakers: Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law. Chicago: ABA Book Publishing. 2010. 528 pp. ISBN 978-1-60442-862-9.
from Lainey Feingold's review on BeyondChron:

J. Kim Wright is an ambitious woman. In this comprehensive resource manual, she describes dozens of ways in which lawyers, judges and legal workers across the country (and around the world) are attempting to change their profession for the better. The terms sound hopeful – Holistic Law, Renaissance Law, Transformative Law, Law with a Meditative Perspective. Spiritual Law, Law as a Healing Profession, Restorative Justice, Therapeutic Jurisprudence. Most profoundly, as the title reflects, “Lawyers as Peacemakers.”

Lawyers as Peacemakers, published by the American Bar Association, clocks in at over 500 pages including appendixes, resources and information about its many contributors. The book includes essays, quotes, interview snippets, profiles and articles written by both Wright and leaders in the various alternative legal processes she explores.

Jul 06, 2010 , , ,

Liberian women lay foundation for strength and progress

from Josh Perry's entry on African Faith and Justice Network:

....Women who were directly affected by the civil war related injustices used the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as their platform to demand, among other things, quality, justice, and freedom of speech.

Jul 06, 2010 ,

Nick Herbert's speech to the Policy Exchange

Nick Herbert is the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice in the new British government. This speech, given 23 June 2010, outlined the Coalition government's reform agenda.

Individual and social responsibility is the third and in many ways the most important principle that we will apply to the criminal justice reform.  An effective criminal justice system should be based on a fair apportioning of personal responsibility.  Offenders need to know that their actions have consequences.

Jul 05, 2010 , ,

Promoting Restorative Justice in Panama

by Lynette Parker

Although the authority to use mediation in certain crimes first appeared in Panamanian regulations in 1995, this option has been underutilised by justice system personnel. Subsequent legislation and policies developed by the Ministerio Público have sought to strengthen mediation, including by creating alternative dispute resolution centres in different parts of the country.

In 2009, the government put out a request for proposals for consultants to assist with promoting penal mediation throughout the country. The Centro de Conciliación y Arbitraje (Centro) of the Cámara de Comercio, Industrias y Agricultura of Panama won the contract to develop a system of alternative conflict resolution.  At that time, the Centro contracted with Prison Fellowship Panama as consultants on the project.  From 28 June through 1 July, I had the honour and pleasure to work with representatives from both organisations in a series of awareness-raising seminars for justice system personnel.

Jul 05, 2010 , ,

Mississippi officials agree to settlement in '64 slayings

from Michele Norris' interview on

On May 2nd, 1964 in the tiny town of Meadville, Mississippi, two 19-year-old black men disappeared while walking along a highway on the edge of town. Two months later, the partial remains of a black man washed ashore in a remote stretch of the Mississippi River. Police identified the victim as Charles Moore, based on a college I.D. in a pants pocket.

Another two months passed before FBI investigators got an anonymous tip about the disappearance of Moore and his friend, Henry Dee. That informant described how Dee and Moore were kidnapped by the Ku Klux Klan and driven to a wooded area where they were beaten and then tied to an old engine block before being dumped into the river while they were still alive.

The families of the two young men filed a civil lawsuit against Franklin County, Mississippi, claiming that local law enforcement officials aided and abetted the Klan. And today they reached a settlement.

Margaret Burnham is one of their attorneys. She's the director of the Civil Rights Restorative Justice program at Northeastern University, and she joins us now. Welcome to the program, Professor Burnham.

Jul 02, 2010 , , ,

Is this the end of the war on crime?

from Sasha Abramsky's entry on Sarasota Criminal Justice Reform:

....Some states and localities are also starting to invest in restorative justice models, putting offenders to work to repair the damage they caused the community rather than simply warehousing them in prisons.

Father George Horan, co-director of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles's Office of Restorative Justice, has spent a lifetime watching youngsters do stupid things and, as a result, ruin their lives. He has seen generations of kids graduate from being troubled children to hardened prisoners. And he has grown increasingly cynical about the ability of penal institutions to solve ingrained social problems. Far better, he has come to believe, to sit nonviolent offenders down with their families, teachers, peers, even victims, and force them to come to terms with the consequences of their actions.

Jul 02, 2010 , ,

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