Mum takes family crime fight into jails
From the article by Jane Hammond in the West Australia:
The mother of a 15-year-old schoolgirl murdered by a teenage love rival has called for compassion for prisoners and their families.
In an emotional address to an ecumenical service in St Mary's Cathedral for Anti-Poverty Week, Karen Lang described how the brutal murder of her only daughter devastated the close-knit family.
The meeting: Jo's story - Surviving rape
From the Restorative Justice Council's website:
This new DVD resource from the RJC follows the story of Jo Nodding, a victim of serious crime who met her offender.
Below are excerpts from Jo's story:
In 2004 I was raped by a boy I knew. For weeks afterwards I was in a daze trying to cope with what had happened not only to me, but also to my family. He didn’t plead guilty to the rape to start with, so I had the extra worry of the trial, but that changed once he was presented with the DNA evidence. The first time I faced him was in Court when he received a life sentence.
Almost a year later I had a visit from the probation Victim Liaison Officer and she mentioned the possibility of restorative justice - of a meeting with Darren. From that time on it was always at the back of my mind. I knew as soon as she said it that I wanted to meet him because this was about me taking control of the situation, re-balancing what he had taken away from me that day. The judge had said to Darren in Court ‘you have destroyed this woman’s life’ – but that wasn’t what I wanted, and that wasn’t how I saw it.
The offer of restorative justice to victims of violent crime: Should it be protective or proactive?
The victims in our sample suggest generalizing the offer of restorative justice to all victims. Themselves victims of very serious crimes, they experienced the beneficial impact of participation in a restorative intervention. However, while they believe that all victims should be informed about restorative opportunities, they emphasize that victims have to feel ready to participate in such programs.
Five years later, Amish grace still flowing from Nickel Mines
Just hours after Charles Carl Roberts IV shot and killed five Amish girls and injured five others on Oct. 2, 2006, in a Nickel Mines schoolhouse, the Amish responded in a way that amazed the world — with forgiveness.
For the Amish, forgiveness is not only a dutiful response to tragedy, it is a way of life — a long, emotional journey. Though the gaze of outsiders has moved on, Amish grace continues to flow in seemingly unimaginable yet strikingly ordinary ways throughout Lancaster County.
The fifth anniversary of the Oct. 2 tragedy provided the backdrop for a Sept. 22 conference, “The Power of Forgiveness: Lessons from Nickel Mines.”
The limits of empathy
....Empathy orients you toward moral action, but it doesn’t seem to help much when that action comes at a personal cost. You may feel a pang for the homeless guy on the other side of the street, but the odds are that you are not going to cross the street to give him a dollar.
There have been piles of studies investigating the link between empathy and moral action. Different scholars come to different conclusions, but, in a recent paper, Jesse Prinz, a philosopher at City University of New York, summarized the research this way: “These studies suggest that empathy is not a major player when it comes to moral motivation. Its contribution is negligible in children, modest in adults, and nonexistent when costs are significant.” Other scholars have called empathy a “fragile flower,” easily crushed by self-concern.
A little girl's memories stir questions about good and evil: Terror in a small town
....I first met Rebecca a year ago, after writing a story about a man who survived his family's massacre. She told me she had a similar tale to share.
It began with death threats over the phone, she said, then letters and drive-by shootings. The church and parsonage were bombed -- 10 times to be precise.
The terror stretched on for more than six years.
Neither local nor state nor federal lawmen were able to stop the assaults. It ended in the parsonage, three days before Easter in 1978, as the family sat down to dinner.
Victim offender dialogue
from the article on JUST Alternatives:
For offenders, victim-centered VOD in crimes of severe violence begins with their acknowledging complete and personal responsibility for what they have done. This means being willing to comprehend the impacts of their actions and behaviors, to face and feel a personal sense of accountability for them, and to feel remorse for the full effects of those actions upon the victims/survivors. It means having a truer understanding of the depth of the pain and grief and suffering they have caused.
Victim-centered VOD for offenders is not merely about apology, especially for what can never be restored or made whole again. There are many victims/survivors who do not even want an apology if it is uninformed by the survivor’s experience. They do not want the offenders in their cases to be allowed the “easy grace” of apology. They alone can tell offenders exactly how what happened has affected them, and they alone are the ones who need and deserve to be in control of when – and whether – to receive an apology.
Restorative justice and prisoner reintegration
The offender had already been in prison for five years. He had been convicted of rape. He and the victim had known each other; they had grown up in the same neighbourhood, he had been friends with the victim’s brother, and the victim’s father had been his teacher at primary school. The case, with his agreement, was referred to mediators by the director of his prison rehabilitation programme. He felt ashamed, and felt he needed the victim to hear him admit the crime, since at trial he had denied his role in the crime, under the guidance of his lawyer, and had in fact blamed the offence on the victim.
Where are the personal apologies for the Freedom Riders?
There has been only a single personal apology for the events that happened 50 years ago. Elwin Wilson, a former member of the KKK, drew the first blood of the Freedom Ride when he attacked John Lewis as he stepped into the bus station in Rock Hill, S.C. He traveled to Washington, D.C. in 2009 to find John Lewis -- now Congressman Lewis -- and to tell him he was sorry.
Congressman Lewis described the meeting to Oprah like this: "He said, 'I attacked you, and I'm sorry. I want to apologize. Will you accept my apology?' And I said, 'Yes.' And he gave me a hug, and he started crying. I hugged him back, and I shed some tears also."
"He's the first and only person who has ever apologized to me."
Murderers turned peacemakers
How is it that women, with dark pasts, serving time for murder and manslaughter, could possibly become honored peacemakers?
Their story is one of personal commitment to themselves and the community in which most are destined to live out their lives. “This is an environment filled with conflict and violence. There is a dire need and want for change,” says Susan Russo, one of the fifteen initial peacemakers, serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole at the largest prison for women in the world, Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, CA. “Mediation interests all of us because we are lifers and long-termers hoping to make a difference in teaching our peers that there is a better way.”
Beginning her quest in 2007, Sue Russo wrote over 50 handwritten letters from prison to mediators all over California. Her letters went unanswered until August of 2009 when one of her letters made it to me, Laurel Kaufer, Esq., a Southern California mediator and peacemaker and founder of the post-Katrina Mississippi Mediation Project.