Will it go 'round in circles?
Even as a 70-year-old grandmother, Daisy Waring admits she's still learning about herself. This lesson, though, comes at a high price.
Her grandson, Byron Lamar Waring, is on death row for the 2005 Raleigh stabbing death of Lauren Redman.
No one talks about it in her small town of Eutawville, S.C. So she kept her sadness and depression bottled up. She felt alone.
Waring first learned about healing circles while attending a conference in 2007 for those like her. The tradition has been used for centuries to resolve conflict and make important community decisions.
Healing circles have helped Waring so much that she travels to Durham every December for an event sponsored by the Capital Restorative Justice Project.
"It really helped me to grow because I really felt empty," Waring said. "Cried all the time. When I leave them, I have hope that it's going to be all right.
"It's an ongoing thing, but every day it gets better, and I'm learning to cope from it."
School takes no bully approach
....Some parents have accused schools of ignoring bullying problems, while others have looked for strategies to stamp out "modern" schoolyard violence.
But Brisbane Catholic school Villanova College is using an alternative method to tackle its bullying problem.
The school, for grade five to senior boys, implemented restorative practice (RP) in 2004, inspired by an Australian Story episode on a former policeman's restorative justice work.
Villanova says it no longer uses the term "bully", instead preferring "wrongdoer", "offender" or "the guy who did the wrong thing".
And it regularly holds Circle Time, which involves small groups of younger students talking about things that are worrying them.
In more serious cases of bullying, there is the "powerful and emotionally gruelling" Community Conference, where parents, teachers and other key stakeholders intervene.
Restorative justice to be tried
Accompanied by the applause and cheers of 2,000 people, local court and school officials pledged Monday night to initiate a pilot program in an alternative means of disciplining youths called restorative justice.
The action came at a meeting of Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together, or CLOUT, an organization of predominantly Louisville churches. CLOUT chose to push the approach as the focus of its annual Nehemiah Action Assembly at the Kentucky International Convention Center in an effort to plug what it called the “school to prison pipeline.”
Apr 26, 2010 Practice
Restorative justice: A community response when bad things happen
Bad things happen. They did to Katy Hutchison on New Year’s Eve in 1997. Her husband Bob was beaten to death while checking on a party being thrown by their neighbour’s son. It happened in Squamish, a small town just north of Vancouver. A wall of silence grew up around the murder. It was four years before Ryan Aldridge admitted to having delivered the fatal blow, was convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to five years in prison.
Katy Hutchison’s response to the tragic event was not “get tough on crime”. She did not see how that approach would build a stronger community. She didn’t want to be re-victimized by the prevailing justice system. Instead, she courageously reached out to Ryan, first through a formal victim/offender reconciliation process, and since, has maintained close contact with Ryan and his family. She wanted healing, and sought it through Restorative Justice. Read Katy and Ryan’s story of forgiveness and restoration.
Restorative Justice at the UN Crime Congress
I’m in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, representing Prison Fellowship International at the 12th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. Later in the week, I will be participating in sessions on restorative justice in prisons and restorative justice in Latin America. So, I was quite interested to hear several references to restorative justice in today’s opening events. I wanted to share some of what was reported and a few of my thoughts.
Clergy sexual abuse: A cry for restorative justice
by Lisa Rea:
At this hour, I would guess that some around the world are weary of the news stories of abuse that have rocked the Catholic Church in recent weeks. But to me, it's a reminder of how far we have to go to heal the injuries suffered by the victims (survivors) of abuse.
More kumbaya, fewer criminals?
Do criminals just need to talk and get some perspective? Yes, the idea seems fluffy, but it looks like some types of talk actually work. "Restorative justice"--in which convicted criminals actually meet their victims--is rapidly gaining ground in the UK.
In one case recounted by Libby Brooks in the Guardian, the victim of a violent burglary wound up shouting at his attacker, telling him "he had crushed every belief [the victim] had that [he] could handle [himself] and protect [his] family." For the attacker, "this was the moment his perspective shifted irrevocably." Despite a history of criminality, he has not reoffended in the past eight years, and is in fact working as a "restorative conference facilitator."
Mugging victim Zoe Harrison 'helped to recover' by meeting her attacker Aaron Burns via restorative justice
When Zoe Harrison first came across Aaron Burns he held a knife to her throat and battered her so brutally he was spattered in her blood.
The last time Zoe, 26, came face to face with her mugger, she left him sobbing for forgiveness.
This is the power of restorative justice - making criminals say sorry to victims.
Calling a circle....
What does it mean when we say, “We’re calling a circle?” In the context of restorative practices I take it to mean that we are clearing a space where community can enter. It may or it may not choose to do so. But sitting in circle is the best we’ve got to silence the din and distraction of daily life and risk finding out that beneath whatever differences we may have on the surface we are connected deeply by what we have in common.
Authentic community is rare and it is safe. It is the opposite of that place we mostly inhabit filled with masks, anxiety, invisibility, power and imbalance. Circles done well open a place for empathy, respect, empowerment, and direct communication for authentic ‘human being.’ Restorative circles are used for sentencing, for reconciliation, for healing, for celebration, for talking and for educating.
Death row lets victims' families down
Most debates about the criminal justice system and restorative justice are criticised for not focusing enough on the impact that violence has on victims and their families. Those objections multiply tenfold when the issue at hand is capital punishment: bring up the subject and many death penalty supporters will say that executions are the only way to meet survivors' needs for justice and closure, and that to oppose capital punishment is to be anti-victim. "What if it was your own son or mother?" they ask. "Wouldn't you want the perpetrator die at the hands of our justice system?"
As it turns out, the truth is rather different. During last week's fourth world congress against death penalty in Geneva, the voices of murder victims' families painted a picture seldom seen in the media. For a variety of reasons, a growing number of families do not support capital punishment. However, all families face decades of legal appeals over the execution of the perpetrator – a truly agonising wait for anyone seeking closure.