What is justice? State program brings victims and offenders face to face
Martha Early, a middle-aged single mother, and Andrew Papke, the chaplain's assistant, sit silently across from each other in the chapel, their hands clasped tightly across a wooden table. To Early's right sits a stack of pictures of her daughter Beth, killed -- along with her boyfriend, Daniel London -- by a teenage drunken driver in 1996. In front of her sits a well-worn binder bursting with colorful stationery and letters full of memories of Beth; she brought them to share with Andrew. Next to the binder is her Bible.
Early gazes at Papke with a look of calm sadness, while Papke's head hangs solemnly. Seconds turn into minutes, and neither one moves. It seems as if the slightest murmur would send them back to earth, where they will be forced to communicate with words.
Finally, Early squeezes Papke's hand.
"I love you, Andrew," she whispers.
"I love you, too," he answers hoarsely.
Within moments, Papke's arms -- the very same arms that steered a car headlong into Beth Early -- are encircling her mother. After engaging in a brief hug, Martha Early gets ready to begin her three-hour drive back to Austin. Andrew returns to his prison cell at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, where he is serving 40 years for intoxication manslaughter.
Restorative justice: A travelogue
from Ryan Hollon's entry on Dr. Pop Blog:
I was heading to South Africa as part of a restorative justice delegation from the Windy City. Our group brought with it a diverse history of activism, action, and hustling for change.
Some of the delegates were working to transform the disciplinary culture of the public school system, others were community leaders deeply rooted in neighborhood life, several had been working for decades to reform the ways our society responds to domestic violence, and many in the group had dedicated their lives to working with young people to shift power in their communities.
All of us were practitioners of conflict resolution methods like peace circles, and all of us shared a basic belief in the power of groups to come together to address difficult issues, to deal with the conflicting forces in our lives.
PiRi explores restorative sessions
from Sue Klassen's article in the newsletter of Partners in Restorative Initiatives (PiRi):
PiRI is exploring the possible use of Restorative Sessions, based on research conducted by Lorenn Walker in the Pono Kaulike program in Hawaii. This pilot program, which reportedly achieved a nearly 50% drop in recidivism and high satisfaction from participants, combined traditional restorative conferencing procedures with Restorative Sessions, meetings that allow offenders to discuss their situations even when their victims decide against joining in the process.
Like PiRI’s work in the Town Courts, the Pono Kaulike program deals with misdemeanor level cases in which many victims choose not to participate.
Giving crime victims the right to meet with their offenders: Virginia legislative developments
by Lisa Rea
Should a crime victim have a right to meet his/her offender? It is very good to see that the Virginia State Legislature is considering the benefits that come with victim offender dialogue and restorative justice programming in general.
Prison Ombudsman seeks apologies from staff for unfair treatment of prisoners
by Stephen Shaw, England and Wales Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, writing in Inside Time:
As Ombudsman, I have tried to pioneer a restorative approach to complaints investigations. If a prisoner has been treated unfairly, a properly worded apology from the staff concerned is the best way of putting things right.
Asking Questions and Speaking the Truth
In 2006, Kathy Key's husband was killed on his way home from work when his motorcycle was hit by a car. The driver was arrested for driving drunk. Through a restorative justice programme, Kathy met the man responsible for her husbands death. In this two minute interview with BBC, Kathy explains her reasons for participating in the meeting and what she felt the offender got out of the meeting.
Exonerated man, accuser forge rare bond
Cage, then 26, was shocked when the police arrested him.
"I'm innocent," he insisted.
That didn't matter. Two years later in 1996, Zilinger's testimony would convict Cage, sending him to prison for 40 years. Zilinger was absolutely sure. Even his voice sounded like her attacker's, she said.
After four appeals and 14 years in prison, Cage won his freedom. A sample of the assailant's saliva, retrieved from the victim's body in 1994, was the proof he needed. A DNA test, which was not available at the time of the trial, was performed on the saliva and excluded him.
Cage was exonerated in May 2008.
It's wonderful to see the coverage of the 50th anniversary event at the Smithsonian commemorating the first sit-in, at the Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth's by those four brave, imaginative N.C. A&T freshmen. A portion of that historic lunch counter is now at the American History Museum in DC, and the store itself just opened as the new International Civil Rights Center & Museum.
But the coverage ignored a subsequent Greensboro civil rights event of possibly comparable future importance: Creation of our nation's first Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Feb 17, 2010 National Reconciliation
Philly's felons: One-man show offers unique perspectives on violent crime in the city
....After interviewing lifers at Graterford Prison, talking with victims of crime, and observing the city and its politics, Lewis came to know Philadelphia as a city struggling with violent crime and the fear it generates. The play he wrote and stars in, "City of Numbers, mixtape of a city," captures the complexity of this urban issue.
In this one-man show, Lewis delivers monologues spoken by more than a dozen characters - prison inmates, crime victims, political figures (including Mayor Nutter) and besieged citizens.
"City of Numbers" has been two years in the making.
Panel: Tribunals as restorative justice
from Erin Walrath's blog:
Just a day ago I attended a panel titled Tribunals as Restorative Justice. The purpose behind this attendance was to orient myself with the judicial side of tribunals. Technically, I would argue that there is not another side of tribunals but I am sure that others would disagree with me. (Assuming that some others see tribunals as a sort of a SA Truth and Reconciliation equal, though they are quite different).
The panel was a number of Korbel professors... with a range of knowledge regarding law, international law, and tribunals. Restorative justice was the primary concern. It incorporates a focus on victims, the harm done and the needs of those harmed, obligations and accountability, and participation of relevant stakeholders.
According to Susan Sharpe (in Restorative Justice: A Vision for Healing and Change) there is an aim to put key decisions in the hands of those most affected by crime, make justice more healing and, ideally, more transformative, and reduce the likelihood or future offenses. Restorative justice is more common in European court systems but it seems is making its way into the US, especially in juvenile cases... so I have heard.
To follow a true R.J. model then, the victim is involved in the process and feels heard and satisfied at the outcome, offenders must understand how their actions affect others and accept responsibility for them, outcomes must repair the harm done and address the reasons behind the offense, and both the victim and offender gain a sense of "closure".