Victim Support chief addresses restorative justice conference
from the organization's website:
Victim Support describes itself as "the independent charity for victims and witnesses of crime in England and Wales. We were set up 35 years ago and have grown to become the oldest and largest victims' organisation in the world. Every year, we contact over 1.5 million people after a crime to offer our help."
Speaking at the Restorative Justice Approaches conference on Thursday 27 January, Javed [Khan] said: “We have for many years supported restorative justice projects up and down the country. We know that one of the greatest benefits of restorative justice is to victims of crime and that satisfaction rates among victims are particularly high when it is victim led.”
Welcoming the government’s commitments to restorative justice he added: “I want to make sure that these are more than just warm words and that restorative justice becomes a right for every victim who wants it.”
Awesome things happen when people come together
Recently, I met with representatives from Prison Fellowship Italy (PF Italy) visiting the Washington, DC area. In early 2010, a colleague and I had visited Italy to train members of the new organisation in the Sycamore Tree Project® so I was really looking forward to hearing about their experiences and the lessons learned. I wasn’t prepared for the awe inspiring stories that they told.
The Sycamore Tree Project® is an in-prison restorative justice programme bringing together unrelated victims and prisoners for a series of six to eight sessions. Through the sessions, participants explore the impact of crime, taking responsibility, confession, repentance, making amends, forgiveness and reconciliation. PF Italy worked quickly to implement this programme in Italian prisons but faced a few obstacles. In the end, the prison administration allowed them to start but with the proviso that the first group consist of prisoners who were mafia members convicted of committing murder and survivors of victims of such mafia activity. I remember receiving that news and thinking, “That’s not where I would want to start.”
Interview with Debbie, a rape victim of Robert Power
from the interview by Ines Aubert:
Ines Aubert was a pen pal of Robert Powers who had been sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl. She discovered over time that Robert had changed profoundly and that he wanted, among other things, to extend an apology to any of his victims who wished to receive that.
This took on some urgency at the end of 2010 as Robert neared the end of his life (he died of cancer on December 3). Ines contacted restorative justice consultant and RJOnline Correspondent Lisa Rea for assistance, but they were unable to find a way to reach out to Robert's victims. Lisa wrote about this in an earlier blog entry on RJOB.
Commenting on an article about Robert's death in a Florida newspaper, Ines wrote that he had wanted to apologize before his death but had been unable. Another reader -- one of Robert's victims -- replied to Ines that she had forgiven Robert. The two were able to connect, and Ines recently interviewed Debbie about her experience as a victim and the reasons for her forgiveness. The following is a short excerpt of an answer Debbie gave to Ines' question about how she felt when she learned that Robert had a pen pal.
The promise of restorative justice: New approaches for criminal justice and beyond
Reviewed by Martin Wright
It is becoming increasingly clear that the principles of restorative justice can be used, as the editors say, outside the formal criminal justice system, and this book bears witness to that. Half is about criminal justice, and half about other applications in schools and elsewhere. The contributors reflect the book’s origins among a group at Fresno Pacific University in California, but other chapters come from Bulgaria, Canada, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.
1000th Sycamore Tree - Restorative Justice programme changes prisoner’s lives
Prison Fellowship’s restorative justice programme Sycamore Tree achieves a milestone today (14th December) when the 1000th programme is completed.
Over 30 Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions in England and Wales offer the programme and around 2,000 learners participate every year. The 1000th Sycamore Tree is being offered at HMP Wayland, Norfolk.
Sycamore Tree raises the awareness of the impact of crime on victims and teaches the principles and application of restorative justice.
Against my will
by Radha Stern
Radha Stern's son Christopher was murdered in 1996. This is her story of how meeting with prisoners, and eventually with the man who killed her son, has helped her find relief and comfort.
Getting into a prison is intimidating. Accompanied by my prison escort, I went to the first gate, presented my ID to a guard who carried a gun. I signed in, was approved and went to the next gate to meet another armed guard and pass through a metal detector. After that gate, I went to another entrance with a guard and gun, signed in, was checked in and approved by the computer, was scanned with a hand-held metal detector, and stamped under the left wrist with the daily stamp. Then I went into a Sally port a large cell – where a huge door slams shut with a resounding “clank.” I was held there until the opposite door opened with another loud “clank,” and I entered another Sally port, which then unlocked and allowed me access into a large open quad.
Prisons, rehabilitation and justice
by Lynette Parker
Recently, I read an article about the struggles faced by the state of Florida after the US Supreme Court banned sentences of life without parole for juveniles who do not kill anyone. In the discussion over the need to revisit cases and re-sentence the offenders, one retired judge was quoted:
“There are no resources in prisons for rehabilitation,'' the former judge said. ``You give him 30 years, and he'll get out when he's 45, what's he going to do? Re-offend. Some people, regardless of their age, need to be put away forever.”
Response by Dr Martin Wright to European Commission consultation document: Taking action on rights, support and protection of victims of crime and violence
The key to this reply is in the last answer: that in principle restorative justice practices should be available to all victims, subject only to the safeguards mentioned in the reply to Question 17. Restorative processes are in the interests not only of victims, but also of offenders and the community.
Victim-offender dialogue is valuable as an end in itself as well as a means to an end. For many victims, action to make the offender less likely to re-offend is at least as high on their list of priorities as monetary compensation or reparation through work. When the victim and offender agree on one of these methods of reparation, it is incumbent on the community to provide the resources to enable offenders to carry them out.
Victim Support: The SORI Programme and Restorative Justice
From the article by Own Sharp on info 4 security:
The arrival of the coalition Government in Westminster has prompted some fierce debate about the future of the criminal justice system and the rehabilitation of offenders.
There has been talk about a ‘rehabilitation revolution’ to cut reoffending, while the role of short sentences has been questioned as part of a sentencing review which will report next month.
As part of this debate, ministers have expressed an interest in restorative justice which we at Victim Support believe could benefit victims, cut reconvictions and, as a result, save the taxpayer money.
It’s a concept that has been put into practice in Wales and other parts of the UK, and gives victims the chance to tell offenders the real impact of their crime, to derive answers to their questions and to receive an apology.
In addition, it helps many victims get on with their lives while giving offenders an understanding of the real impact of what they have done, as well as a chance to do something to repair the harm.
Prisoners wait in wings
from the story by Polly Rippon in The Star:
A prisoner serving time for breaking into a vicarage met the victim of his crime for the first time after inviting him to a play about restorative justice at Doncaster Prison.
In an emotional meeting the offender, who can't be named, apologised to the priest at the end of the performance and shook his hand as he left the stage.