Churches grapple with whether to welcome convicted sex offenders
"All are welcome" is a common phrase on many a church sign and Web site. But what happens when a convicted sex offender is at the door?
Church officials and legal advocates are grappling with how -- and whether -- people who have been convicted of sex crimes should be included in U.S. congregations, especially when children are present:
Could Oakland become a restorative justice city?
Is it possible for one city to become a model for restorative justice? Can you imagine a ten year plan to make it happen? I don’t know what that might look like but I really want to hear from people who have ideas about it. Here’s an article Edwin Rutsch sent me describing the work of a number of people in Santa Cruz, California, who have that dream for their city. They say that the cities of Hull, England and Rochester, New York have already become “Restorative Cities.”
Youth win on Chicago Public Schools guards, grievance process
In a victory for two youth organizing drives, CPS has agreed to establish a grievance procedure for students experiencing violence, harassment or discrimination, and to pilot a program training security guards to use principles of restorative justice in their work.
Both campaigns promote the restorative justice approach – emphasizing accountability as an alternative to zero tolerance and punitive discipline – as a more effective approach to reducing violence, said Sam Finkelstein of GenderJust, an LGTB student group that protested at CPS headquarters and at CPS chief Ron Huberman’s home to demand a grievance procedure.
County can take the lead in ensuring juvenile justice
The Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice report on the Luzerne County judicial scandal revealed a multi-systemic failure. Juvenile offenders – some as young as 12– were taken from their parents and placed in detention facilities for weeks, sometimes months, for extremely minor offenses. To put these youth in juvenile detention for minor transgressions at a cost of several hundred dollars a day for months on end is unconscionable public policy.
The report outlines both a virtual breakdown in all three branches of government and a system plagued by tension between those who wanted the juvenile justice system to punish misconduct and those who wanted it to teach youth how to avoid repeating bad behavior. Also at fault, according to the report, “is the fact that there exists an inaccurate perception about the children who come into the juvenile courts.” While some accounts conjure up images of “juvenile predators” or “gang leaders,” our juvenile courts generally deal with less serious conduct – cases that reflect common immaturities among juveniles.
Is this the end of the war on crime?
....Some states and localities are also starting to invest in restorative justice models, putting offenders to work to repair the damage they caused the community rather than simply warehousing them in prisons.
Father George Horan, co-director of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles's Office of Restorative Justice, has spent a lifetime watching youngsters do stupid things and, as a result, ruin their lives. He has seen generations of kids graduate from being troubled children to hardened prisoners. And he has grown increasingly cynical about the ability of penal institutions to solve ingrained social problems. Far better, he has come to believe, to sit nonviolent offenders down with their families, teachers, peers, even victims, and force them to come to terms with the consequences of their actions.
The population of Vermont has grown only ten percent in the last twenty years, and violent crime in that same period has dropped by thirty percent. But during these same years Vermont's prison population has swelled, and the cost of incarceration has skyrocketed. In these twenty years, Vermont has created more prison beds - and filled them - and still has to send some offenders out of state.
Punishing costs: How locking up children is making Britain less safe
There are also alternative approaches to justice that address minor offending more effectively than the traditional criminal justice system. Practices of restorative or community justice are based on the offenders accepting personal responsibility and repairing the damage they have done, instead of merely receiving punishment. These forms of justice also involve the victims and the wider community in the process, creating a new way of engaging people with the justice system.
Expert says alternatives to jail involve efforts of many
While restorative probation boards could save the state money by punishing nondangerous offenders in the community instead of jail, Nilson’s underlying philosophy runs deeper.
The process would help give a voice to victims of crime, the literal victims and the community as a victim, Nilson said. That voice is largely absent in western criminal justice systems in which “the state” takes over the role as victim and turns victims into the state’s witnesses, he said.
What happens at the end of the year
It's late May. The last day of school for 2009-10 is about 11 days away. For most of the students, teachers, faculty and staff it couldn't come sooner. For Restorative Justice workers like myself, it can be a difficult time. Due to the cumulative effect of discipline, minor misconduct can result in suspension, often for the rest of the year. Student follow-ups are hard to do because of absences, field trips, and assemblies. Day to day operations take a different tack. I find myself wanting to be part of the whole school effort to end well and I practice being a peaceful presence all the more.
Ex-Chicago Cop on trial for torturing confessions from hundreds of Black Men
....Flint Taylor, an attorney who represented many clients who say they were tortured by Burge, said the next battle is to change the laws regarding torture.
"Well, that's the statute of limitations problem and one of the many unaddressed issues in Chicago. We are very pleased that Burge is being prosecuted, but there is much left to do, and that includes dealing with federal and state statutes, legislation that would make torture a specific crime," said Taylor.
"And since it's a crime against humanity, there would be no statute of limitations, like there is no statute of limitations for genocide or murder. And in that instance, in the future, if there were another Burge or other torture -- another torture ring and it were covered up successfully for many years, then he could still or they could still be prosecuted for torture," Taylor added.