Church vandals apologise to congregation
from the article by Rene Gerryts on Bridport News:
Four of the youngsters responsible for vandalising a Bridport church stood before its congregation on Sunday to apologise.
The quartet – whose images were captured on CCTV – agreed to take part in the new Restorative Justice scheme.
....Mr Evans said: “It is the first time I have been involved in this sort of system and it was terrific.
The hardest kind of justice
In countries throughout the world prisons are about to reach capacity, or more commonly, are completely overcrowded. Of those that do manage to get out of prison, in the case of the UK and the US for example, the rate of recidivism hovers around 50 and 60% every year since the mid-nineties. Meaning more than half of all former prisoners never get rehabilitated, never deal with issues of responsibility, trauma and emotion.
Furthermore, legal systems are flooded with cases creating a bottleneck that causes even the smallest of cases to last far longer than they should. When you add to this situation the astronomical costs of the average criminal justice system, it is easy to see that increasingly, governments have reached a breaking point. On the other side of the coin are the victims. Between the judges and the lawyers the average victim has a limited role in the very trial that is supposed to provide them with some sense of resolution and justice.The trauma that comes with the pain and suffering can last a lifetime.
Storytelling: Simple but profound
I hesitate to write about storytelling and restorative justice as a lot of people have written about the profound impact of this form of communication. A quick search for the term “storytelling” on Restorative Justice Online returns 29 different entries by people such as Kris Miner and Kay Pranis. Yet, I’ve recently been reminded of how important storytelling can be not only in communication but for an individual processing through pain and loss.
I remember talking with a woman who had lost her son in an automobile accident that involved drunk driving. She expressed a series of emotions ranging from grief to anger to denial. In telling me about the impact of her son’s death, she also described her anger and frustration with the criminal justice system in that her family was denied an opportunity to tell their story. She summed up all this in saying that they deserved the right to have the conference with the young man who had been driving that day. They deserved to be able to tell him how profoundly that one night had changed their lives.
'Why I confronted the man who raped me’
Dr Claire Chung, who has agreed to waive her anonymity in The Sunday Telegraph, was raped twice in the stinking stairwell of a multi-storey car park, and the crime caused her life to collapse “like a pack of cards”.
Dr Chung, a highly regarded GP with more than 20 years’ medical experience, lost her job, her marriage and her home after being raped by Stephen Allen Gale, who had been released from prison for another sexual offence just one day earlier.
But following the attack, which she described in chilling detail, Dr Chung negotiated with the authorities to allow a meeting with Gale in prison.
The meeting was organised as part of a “restorative justice” scheme, which brings criminals face to face with their victims.
Victims confront thief in jail
from the article in The Northern Echo:
The meeting was arranged by police as part of a restorative justice project and Mrs Turnbull, 57, of Deneside, had second thoughts about going along.
She said: “I had decided I was not going to go. I felt as if I could not face meeting him.
“It was only because the police turned up on my doorstep to pick me up that I went along because I did not want to waste their time.”
Mrs Turnbull spent 90 minutes with the offender in Durham Prison, where he is serving a five-year sentence.
Interview with Professor Nicola Lacey
Professor Nicola Lacey is a Senior Research fellow and Professor of criminal theory at All Souls College, University of Oxford. She was in New Zealand recently to give the 2010 Shirley Smith Address on the subject of the Politics of Punishment. We took the opportunity to pick her brain.
....Rethinking: Someone said something to me the other day about how if we are going to put the requirements of victims in this process it should be their needs, rather than their wants.
NL: Exactly. You need to have the debate about which needs can legitimately be met by the criminal justice process.
Non-formal education in the Middle East: Giving adolescents a second chance
In May 2005 violence exploded during a soccer game among students who had just enrolled in their town’s first NFE class. Angry over a lost goal, Humam kicked his younger teammate Ayman to the ground. This kind of violence early in the programme jeopardized the entire approach to alternative education. Ayman was a shy, defenseless boy. Other boys like him might feel threatened, and the safety of the learning environment might dissolve if violence went unchecked.
The teaching facilitators decided that the violent incident would best be resolved by the students themselves ruling on justice for the harmed and a penalty for the offender. They announced a trial – with students taking the roles of judge, jury, prosecution and defense – and explained the legal process to the two boys and the other students.
Forgiveness scholar opens up on role of faith
Today, at least 1,000 academic researchers and "countless therapists" specialize in forgiveness studies, Enright said, but at the time, a library search turned up not a single piece of scholarship on the subject in any of the social sciences.
Enright found himself drawn to the area and began leading a seminar on forgiveness at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he was a tenured professor. Among the assigned readings for the seminar were selections from the scriptures of various religious traditions.
Those texts raised questions that led Enright back to back to Christianity: first to what he describes as a liberal Methodist church, then to an evangelical Protestant congregation, and finally back to Catholicism.
So how do you know that an offender means it when they say sorry?
from Dave Walker's blog entry:
I attended a session in a well known, inner city prison full of local, inner city, young men with all the airs and graces of inner city life, drugs, violence and gang culture. These things don’t cease upon sentencing – if anything they can sometimes be more intense on a prison wing than on the street. Status can be everything on the wing and a new pair of trainers will do wonders for you on the respect scale.
To see a young man in an environment like this full of masculine front stand up to read a letter he has written to the parents of another young man he had beaten up in a gang related incident. To see this man physically shaking and weeping in front of the room I have described. To see some of the other men welling up at what they are hearing. To hear the regret that the realisation of their actions has induced: a realisation not at all prompted by the court process. To witness all this is the only way to have that big question answered. This is what I witnessed and I have absolutely no doubt as to their sincerity.
California's victims restitution fund running on empty
California's fund to help victims of crime is teetering on insolvency, with state officials this week scheduled to consider several cost-cutting moves to keep the account from going broke by next year.
The state restitution fund is the payer of last resort for crime victims and the oldest such program in the country. It has covered more than $2 billion worth of doctor's bills, burial costs and other expenses from hundreds of thousands of claims since it began in 1965.
....Victims advocates point to other causes for the fund's troubles: money taken by other parts of state government.