Internally displaced people in Colombia: Victims in permanent transition
by Dan Van Ness
I have just received a copy of a research study on the peace negotiations in Colombia: Internally displaced people in Colombia: Victims in permanent transition: Ethical and political dilemmas of reparative justice in the midst of internal armed conflict by Sandro Jiménez Ocampo, et al.
From 2004 to 2007, the Colombian Government conducted peace negotiations with paramilitary groups. One of the issues negotiated had to do with the claims of people who had been killed or forcibly displace from their land, lands that were held by the combatants when the negotiations began.
Forced displacement and deaths continued during the course of the negotiations, creating new claims. While reparation to victims was supposed to be a prominent outcome to the negotiations, the difficulties of negotiating peace in the course of a violent conflict together with the absence of the victims of displacement from the negotiation meant that there were claims of serious inadequacies with the results.
Youth Justice in Western Australia
The aim of this paper is to advance debate about the future of youth justice in Western Australia. The focus is on how we can improve outcomes for the small number of children who are coming into contact with the criminal justice system. It argues that youth justice practice has been allowed to drift over the past decade, principally because of lack of focus on the specific needs of young offenders due to the subordinate status of youth justice within what is essentially an adult focused correctional bureaucracy, and because of waning commitment to the principle of diversion on behalf of the police. These two phenomena are interconnected. Lack of clarity regarding the role of youth justice has led to a decline in the quality of support for children and families at risk, which has, in turn, undermined confidence within the police regarding the benefits of diversion from the system. Diversion is simply about choosing the least intrusive option when dealing with young offenders.
Violent juvenile offenders: Adult time for adult crime?
by Lisa Rea
The topic of what to do with juvenile offenders keeps coming up in the U.S., and elsewhere, in part because we have no consistent response to juvenile crime. The issue of juvenile crime is hot, too, because there are few answers. It is good to see that according to this CNN piece that in the U.S. states are apparently "rethinking adult time for adult crimes" committed by juvenile since sending juveniles to adult prisons just flat out doesn't work. Say what you want about crimes rates declining in some areas or in some states, there is limited evidence that the decline in juvenile crime is due to policies that put juveniles together with adult criminals, many of them hardened offenders.
Italy prison overcrowding emergency
from the article in Corrections Reporter:
The Italian government on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in the country’s prisons and launched a four-point plan to tackle the overcrowding, ANSA news agency reported.
Talking at a press conference attended as well by Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, the Justice Minister Angelino Alfano said “the plan is without precedent in the history of this Republic.”
“We’re going to eliminate prison overcrowding once and for all without resorting to another round of amnesties,” he added, which would empty prisons by pouring criminals in the society.
Abuse and restoration: A non-violent approach
Editor's note: Mr. Lawrence sent his powerful story to RJ Online. His story is remarkable particularly because he did not have the assistance of restorative practitioners who could have helped him and his father in their initial conversations. Perpetrators or survivors who wish to make contact with the other should find a restorative facilitator to determine if such a meeting is advisable and to help both prepare.
My name is Paige Lawrence and I want to talk to you about reconciling abuse. Reconciliation is about making things whole again, about restoration.
My experience was that the anger and the pain that sexual abuse caused in my family and my life was compromising my ability to accomplish the things I wanted for myself ten, fifteen, even twenty years after the actual abuse occurred.
So, in my late twenties after trying spiritual counseling and psychotherapy to no avail, I tried contacting the sexual abuser who had started it all and talking to him directly.
It was not easy, it was scary and it took a long time to develop the level of respect and trust that we needed to be able to speak plainly to one another; but we did it and I want to share some of what I learned from that experience with you.
I am not a therapist and I am not a PhD, I’m just a guy who experienced sexual abuse first hand and I want very much to share with you what helped me.
Evaluation released on Glasgow’s Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV)
Glasgow’s Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV) formally began on 24 October 2008, with the aim of dramatically reducing gang violence in the East End during an initial two year period, followed by a rigorous and independent evaluation.
....Following intensive engagement with gang members by police officers and community partners, five self referral sessions were held at Glasgow Sheriff Court. 222 gang members in total attended these sessions and 368 have actively engaged with CIRV in the first year, each having given a pledge to stop their violent behaviour.
....On average there has been a 49.2% reduction in the level of violent offending by gang members who have engaged with CIRV. By using gang members to influence fellow gang members, CIRV also aims to affect the behaviour of those who refuse to engage. As such, there has to date been an average 18.5% reduction in violent offending by this disengaged group.
Long path to redemption: Restorative justice has success stories, but law doesn't require its use
Back in June 2005, [Jonathan] Price was 17 and looking forward to his senior year at Sand Creek High School with his "posse" a tight group of friends, mostly military brats, who had spent their high school years invading each other's houses like family, having sleepovers and playing Halo. When they were younger, they caused the "boys will be boys" brand of trouble stealing bulbs out of porch lights, ringing doorbells and running away. Now they were acting their age more often.
One day, Price and buddies Terence Henderson and Marcus (last name not available) decided to head to Price's place. Marcus called shotgun. Henderson insisted on riding on top of the trunk.
Price began driving. He rounded a curve and paused at a stop sign. That's when they noticed Henderson was gone.
The boy had fallen off the back and hit his head. A day later, he was dead.
New Items in the RJ Online Database
New additions to the RJ Online research database over the last week addressed various topics including legal institutions, youth justice, probation, victim empathy, and national reconciliation. Check out the list of new entries below.
Cutting crime: The case for justice reinvestment
The British House of Common Justice Committee has recently released a report on the reinvestment of justice resources aimed at reducing crime. The following is excerpted from the Executive Summary:
We decided to undertake an inquiry into “justice reinvestment”, because of three linked issues.
First, the criminal justice system is a complex network of agencies with substantial public funding operating under increasing pressure but the different parts of the system do not seem to be pursuing the same goals or making cogent contributions to an agreed overarching purpose.
Secondly, the Government’s main answer to the current overcrowding of prisons and the predicted rise in the prison population—already at a record high—is to provide more prison places rather than to seek to address the root causes of this seemingly incessant growth. These causes include: a toxic cocktail of sensationalised or inaccurate reporting of difficult cases by the media; relatively punitive overall public opinion (compared to much of the EU); a self-defeating over-politicisation of criminal justice policy since the late 1980s and the responsiveness to all these factors of the sentencing framework and sentencers.
Thirdly, it is clear that authorities and agencies outside the criminal justice system—with relevant objectives, remits and funding—could take more effective action to reduce both the number of people entering the criminal justice system in the first place and the likelihood of re-entry after serving a sentence.
So questions arise as to whether the existing allocation of attention, energy and funding is the right one. “Justice reinvestment” approaches—which channel resources on a geographically-targeted basis to reduce the crimes which bring people into the criminal justice system and into prison in particular—offer potential solutions to these challenges.
Going Off Script: What is appropriate for a facilitator to say?
Recently, I was in a pre-conference with a young man who had stolen various types of signs -- street signs, stop signs, farm signs -- and felt it was just a joke and couldn't understand why it was such a big deal. I found myself wanting to tell a story about an incident that happened when I was in high school or college when a family friend was hit by a tractor trailer. The problem was that someone had stolen the stop sign at the intersection and the truck driver didn't know he was supposed to stop.
All this came to mind when I heard the young man say that taking the signs was just a joke and "everyone does it." I found myself wanting to lecture and tell him the story about my family friend and how the person who stole the sign was really responsible for the accident. But, I bit my tongue and listened to him tell his story. I did ask him to think about what the possible outcomes of taking the signs could be.
The conversation did cause me to re-examine my role and ask what is appropriate for a facilitator to say in a pre-conference setting.