A review of the Youth Justice System in Northern Ireland
One of the most positive developments to have arisen out of Northern Ireland’s recent history is the expansion of rich and varied restorative practices. Restorative approaches have been used to respond to offending and anti-social behaviour, family disputes, disruptive behaviour in schools and children’s homes and in helping prisoners reintegrate back into their communities. Early teething problems have been largely overcome and professional practice in restorative justice in Northern Ireland is now internationally recognised.
Don't send that email. Pick up the phone!
Like many readers, I have experienced too many unproductive strings of back-and-forth emails or texts that should have stopped in round two, but continue. The problems with trying to resolve sensitive matters over email or text are quite obvious:
Different types of restorative justice circles and a practitioner perspective
Just as there are 12 major markings on the face of a clock, I could list 12 different kinds of Circles. In four basic categories those Circles would be community building – peace building – repair building – and celebration. This also creates a full circle!
A very brief explanation on these four categories, followed by a practitioner perspective. All these Circles use the 4 stages and phases I have written about on this blog. You use good Circlekeeping skills and techniques for each of these.
Restorative practices in Hungary: An ex-prisoner is reintegrated into the community
from the article by Vidia Negrea:
As the representative of Community Service Foundation of Hungary, the Hungarian affiliate of the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), I participated in a group session of the Hungarian Crime Prevention and Prison Mission Foundation in summer 2009 (Sycamore Tree Project — or Zacchaeus Program in Hungary). There I met the governor of Balassagyarmat prison, where inmates were working in groups on issues related to their crimes and exploring ways to repair relationships they had damaged.
Some inmates began accepting responsibility for what they had done and were motivated to make things right and earn forgiveness of victims and their families. Prisoners made symbolic reparation in the form of community service within the prison, but there was still a lot to do to create opportunities for offenders to make contact with victims and shed the stigma of their offense by means of direct reparation. Also, prison management believed it important to support processes, acceptable to victimized families and communities, to help prisoners regain control of their lives and prevent reoffending.
Restorative justice may not work for all young offenders
Educating young offenders about the consequences of their crimes is a key way to ensure they don’t re-offend. But bringing them face to face with their victims may not always be the right way to go.
Young offenders often suffer long-term abuse or neglect. They frequently fail to achieve academically, and have few, if any marketable employment skills. They face elevated risks of mental health problems and early and problematic substance abuse.
Six Brazilian states are using the restorative juvenile justice of Terre des hommes
from the article on AlertNet:
In September 2011, representatives of the legal authorities, public prosecutors, lawyers, non-governmental organisations, adolescents and families from six states in Brazil came together, all in agreement on the fact that restorative juvenile justice should be implemented in the current law system.
Review: Walking the talk: Developing ethics frameworks for the practice of restorative justice
While restorative justice is a theory that encompasses a set of values for how justice should be done, maintaining those values and the restorative focus can become difficult in day-to-day practice. People working in restorative justice organisations – whether staff or volunteers – make a myriad of decisions related to practices each day. Such decisions may be related to work with clients, work with other organisations or internal processes and interactions. How can they make these decisions while maintaining the integrity of their restorative justice programme?
Susan Sharpe seeks to answer this question with Walking the talk: Developing ethics frameworks for the practice of restorative justice. In the 62 page publication, Sharpe sets out a process that organisations and individual practitioners can use to develop an ethics framework to empower and guide decisionmaking. In doing so, she avoids the contentious issue of setting standards by developing the steps in a process that each organisation can use to develop a framework that has direct meaning for it and the various issues that it faces.
Walla Walla prison restorative dialogue
From the article by Lorenn Walker on the Restorative Practices Blog:
Colleen Shapel’s husband Bob, who was also her best friend for most of her life, was senselessly murdered in a February 2004 robbery. Melissa, Colleen’s oldest daughter, and William Schorr, a co-defendant who plead guilty to the murder, also participated in the restorative dialogue (another defendant who was determined to be most responsible for the murder refused to participate).
After I was first contacted, and until the dialogue was finally conducted six months later in July, I spoke on the phone with Colleen, Melissa and William frequently. I met Colleen and Melissa in person several times a few days, and William a few hours, before the dialogue.
I felt my job was to mainly listen to their pain, and simply be present with them in their suffering.
Child Justice Act undercut from within
Even before it began the rocky climb through the parliamentary process, the Child Justice Bill was considered to be internationally path-breaking legislation. It was born in the euphoria of the early 1990s in a country where youth had been considered politically lethal, whipping was a sentence, imprisonment the standard response to wrongdoing and torture considered a legitimate interrogation method.
The new legislation sought to provide restorative justice by diverting child offenders from this punitive justice system and keeping them out of prisons, which simply hardened criminality. It devised ways to work with offenders and victims to restore harmony in the community where the crime took place. Punishment would be tailored to the crime and dealt in a way that maintained the self-respect of the offender as well as the approval of both community and victim.
Alternatives for juveniles in Bulgaria
Recently I provided restorative conferencing training for Prison Fellowship Bulgaria (PF Bulgaria) and several of its partner agencies. The twenty participants represented different public and non-governmental organisations including the Department for Child Protection, the Anti-bullying Commission of Vratsa, the Cultural Centre of Vratsa, the Probation Department, Caritas- Ruse and PF Bulgaria.
They are part of a new juvenile justice initiative being led by PF Bulgaria and Caritas-Ruse to introduce alternatives for working with at-risk youth. The project, “Active communities in the prevention of the institutionalisation of children and juvenile offenders,” offers several services for young people coming from difficult home situations and for those who have committed crime. It is being implemented in the Bulgarian cities of Vratsa and Ruse.