Martin Luther King and life after hate
....“The nonviolent approach does not immediately change the heart of the oppressor. It first does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it. It gives them new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage that they did not know they had. Finally it reaches the opponent and so stirs his conscience that reconciliation becomes a reality.” [Martin Luther King]
Review: A community-based approach to the reduction of sexual re-offending: circles of support and accountability
Often sex offenders are isolated people who have difficulty making relationships, and when they come out of prison the double stigma of prison and the nature of their offence isolates them still more – an extra hardship for them, and an increased risk that they will revert to their previous behaviour. So the idea of forming a circle of support for them is both humane and a safeguard. It does not fall under the usual definition of restorative justice, because it does not include dialogue with the victim, which would in many cases be unwanted and/or inappropriate. It does however restore or even improve the situation of the offender, and it involves members of the community.
Editorial: Losing tolerance over zero-tolerance policies
from the Denver Post:
Few events have shaped school discipline policies the way the 1999 Columbine High School massacre has — not just in Colorado but around the nation.
Zero tolerance became a catchphrase for "doing-everything-possible-to-make-sure-this-never-happens-again."
Controversies around restorative justice
....Restorative justice may be poised for a breakthrough into public awareness. It would be a boon for budget-cutting politicians and taxpayers if only the public could buy into it. For example, in the San Francisco Bay Area it costs around $50,000 to run a juvenile offender through the justice system, not counting the cost of incarceration if there is to be any, versus about $4,500 for a restorative process that typically leaves the victim much more satisfied, the young person reintegrated into the community without even being charged with a crime and much less likely to reoffend, and many community members relieved and grateful. Multiply the criminal justice cost many times for adults locked away for years.
Twenty years of restorative justice in New Zealand
from the article by Fred W.M. McElrea in Tikkun:
As I look back over the last twenty years, the following aspects of the family group conference system stand out as being both innovative and of potential value to adult systems as well:
from the transcript on Religion & Ethics:
POTTER: More than two million Americans are now imprisoned, four times as many as 30 years ago. The major reason: mandatory sentencing for non-violent crimes and drug charges. But the war on drugs, declared in the 1980s, has not had the effect its backers predicted. Arkansas Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen has seen the results.
JUDGE WENDELL GRIFFEN (Arkansas Circuit Court): Drug use has not declined. All it has done has produced an explosion on our prison population. The whole mandatory sentencing guideline mantra was sort of like the Kool-Aid that we should never have drunk.
This is restorative justice. And it works.
Strathclyde police deserve heavy praise. Not only have they curbed gang violence (see this Guardian piece from yesterday) they have persuaded a Tory (led) government of the merits of restorative justice.
In the wake of the summer riots Cameron pointed to the success of Strathclyde police in dealing with gang violence: “I want us to use the record of success against gangs some cities like Boston in the USA and indeed the Strathclyde police in Scotland – who have done this by engaging the Police, the voluntary sector and local government. I want this to be a national priority”(full text here)
Chicago Heights school helps launch anti-violence initiative
A number of characters were involved in a troubling incident at school.
Their names fit their roles in the anger-sparked altercation: China Doll, Joe Swag, Bob Lame.
But while the story that was acted out recently in a courtroom at the Daley Center in downtown Chicago was fictional, the program behind it is real and has a serious goal: reducing youth violence in the Chicago area.
Harper government misguided in its tough-on-crime approach
from the Globa and Mail editorial:
David Daubney, a justice-department adviser, could have gone quietly into retirement. Instead, he tried to talk some sense back into this country. Prison overcrowding will worsen and breed violence, he told The Globe's Kirk Makin in an exit interview. The tough-on-crime route has been tried and failed. The government knows what it knows, doesn't listen to evidence and is reluctant to ask for research to be undertaken.
“The policy is based on fear – fear of criminals and fear of people who are different. I do not think these harsh views are deeply held.” It's a good point. A new poll shows that 93 per cent of Canadians feel safe from crime. Why, then, spend billions of dollars to go backward?
Fearmonger and Through The Glass: Books that undermine Harper's omnibus crime bill
from the review by Matthew Behrens in rabble.ca:
It's a rare event in the Canadian publishing world when non-fiction books line up in sync with current events, but these two titles are perfectly timed as Canadians consider the serious consequences of the Harper government's dramatic omnibus crime bill, one that will radically alter an already deteriorating judicial system.
....Those who'd like an inkling of what could come down the pipe can do no better than read Paula Mallea's appropriately named Fearmonger, an outstanding overview of recently passed and proposed crime legislation.