Conservative criminal justice policy and restorative justice
....[I]f we win the election, we will be missing a great opportunity if we do not seize the moment to move Restorative Justice to a much higher place on the agenda of criminal justice reform.
It‟s very simple: if I become the Prisons Minister, I will be a strong advocate and supporter of RJ.
Another warning about US prison policy: Justice Kennedy laments the state of prisons in California, U.S.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy criticized California sentencing policies and crowded prisons Wednesday night, calling the influence that unionized prison guards had in passing the three-strikes law "sick."
In an otherwise courtly and humorous address to the Los Angeles legal community, Kennedy expressed obvious dismay over the state of corrections and rehabilitation in the country. He said U.S. sentences are eight times longer than those issued by European courts.
Public speaking tips: Reaching everyone in your audience when speaking about restorative justice
from Kris Miner's blog:
From Seth Godin's blog:
The work you do when you spread the word or run an ad or invent a policy is likely aimed at one of these four groups.
- Strangers are customers to be, but not yet
- Critics are those that would speak ill of you, or need to be converted
- Friends are those that might have given permission, or even buy now and then
- Fans are members of your tribe, supporters and insiders
You already know the truth: can’t please all these groups at once.
As a restorative justice practitioner or advocate, you maybe asked to speak to a group, that includes all the groups mentioned above. Godin’s categories, reminded me of a recent post, not everyone views restorative justice equally.
Anti-crime bills deserved to die in Canada
The editorial on prorogation (Jan. 5) mentions that among the bills that died with this parliamentary session were many parts of "Harper's tough on crime agenda."
This is the one good result of prorogation as these bills contained very bad criminal law.
Stephen Harper is not "tough on crime"-- he is soft in the head on crime, preferring to build more prisons -- the most expensive, least effective form of influencing behaviour -- instead of investing in preventive measures, such as early childhood care and education, and the alleviation of poverty.
Oakland school board approves district-wide restorative justice initiative despite budget crisis
In other business, the board voted Wednesday night to implement a district-wide “Restorative Justice” initiative....
Restorative Justice focuses on “acknowledging that crime causes injury to people and communities, it insists that justice repair those injuries and that the parties be permitted to participate in that process,” according to the Prison Fellowship International’s Restorative Justice Online web site. In schools, this takes the form of training teachers and students to practice active communication, face-to-face reconciliation and non-punitive actions to address misconduct.
Nikita Mitchell, 16,is a junior at Castlemont High where her group, Youth Together, has been trained in restorative justice practices. She said that a key part of the program is better communication. A teacher who notices a student is upset or acting out, for instance, can enter the information into a computer system that the “teacher of record” for the restorative justice program will check daily. That teacher will then refer a trained student to have a one-on-one meeting with the upset student to talk about the problem and work on solutions like apologies, mediation, or “peacemaking circles,” in which members of the community share their feelings and come to a consensus about how to move past inappropriate actions.
Italy prison overcrowding emergency
from the article in Corrections Reporter:
The Italian government on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in the country’s prisons and launched a four-point plan to tackle the overcrowding, ANSA news agency reported.
Talking at a press conference attended as well by Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, the Justice Minister Angelino Alfano said “the plan is without precedent in the history of this Republic.”
“We’re going to eliminate prison overcrowding once and for all without resorting to another round of amnesties,” he added, which would empty prisons by pouring criminals in the society.
Cutting crime: The case for justice reinvestment
The British House of Common Justice Committee has recently released a report on the reinvestment of justice resources aimed at reducing crime. The following is excerpted from the Executive Summary:
We decided to undertake an inquiry into “justice reinvestment”, because of three linked issues.
First, the criminal justice system is a complex network of agencies with substantial public funding operating under increasing pressure but the different parts of the system do not seem to be pursuing the same goals or making cogent contributions to an agreed overarching purpose.
Secondly, the Government’s main answer to the current overcrowding of prisons and the predicted rise in the prison population—already at a record high—is to provide more prison places rather than to seek to address the root causes of this seemingly incessant growth. These causes include: a toxic cocktail of sensationalised or inaccurate reporting of difficult cases by the media; relatively punitive overall public opinion (compared to much of the EU); a self-defeating over-politicisation of criminal justice policy since the late 1980s and the responsiveness to all these factors of the sentencing framework and sentencers.
Thirdly, it is clear that authorities and agencies outside the criminal justice system—with relevant objectives, remits and funding—could take more effective action to reduce both the number of people entering the criminal justice system in the first place and the likelihood of re-entry after serving a sentence.
So questions arise as to whether the existing allocation of attention, energy and funding is the right one. “Justice reinvestment” approaches—which channel resources on a geographically-targeted basis to reduce the crimes which bring people into the criminal justice system and into prison in particular—offer potential solutions to these challenges.
The secret to creating a calm classroom without conflict
A radical approach to behavioural problems, already successfully used with criminals and in areas of political unrest, is starting to prove its worth in schools. Low-level disruption is a stubborn problem in many classrooms, yet work done in three East Sussex schools shows that this technique makes it possible to get to the roots of problems and make fundamental changes.
Research published last month shows that by training staff and pupils as skilled mediators, and by making clear to everyone that conflicts will be dealt with in a fair and open way, these schools have been able to avert problems and make significant changes to their atmosphere.
U.S. Sentencing Commission and restorative justice
The U.S. Sentencing Commission has now created a victim advisory group which will include restorative justice expert Howard Zehr and Illinois crime victim Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins.
Restorative justice workshop report
From the blog post by Sue Huff, trustee for Edmonton Public Schools.
For the past three days, I've attended a Restorative Justice Facilitator Workshop put on by the Alberta Conflict Tranformation Society. I've had the opportunity to hear about this practice from a few sources, including Dr. Martin Brokenleg and some EPSB staff who believe that it is a more effective teaching tool than traditional punitive measures like suspensions or expulsions. This workshop was a chance to delve a little more deeply into the process.
...In a nutshell, this approach demands that the one who has caused the harm (or "offender" if it is a legal case) take responsibility for their actions, admit what they have done and come face-to-face with everyone who has been harmed (or "victims".) The facilitated conversation that takes place is raw, emotional and honest. Everyone talks about how they have been affected by the incident. Victims have the opporunity to have burning questions answered. In the end, the circle decides what steps need to be taken to move towards repairing the harm and rebuilding relationships/lives/community/hope. In most cases, conflict is transformed into cooperation. Hatred is transformed into understanding, empathy or forgiveness. Of course, it doesn't work 100% of the time, but in most circumstances, people on both sides leave feeling satisfied with the outcomes. (Contrast that satisfaction with how most people feel after a court case.)