- Showing 10 posts published between Jan 01, 2010 and Jan 31, 2010 [Show all]
Long path to redemption: Restorative justice has success stories, but law doesn't require its use
Back in June 2005, [Jonathan] Price was 17 and looking forward to his senior year at Sand Creek High School with his "posse" a tight group of friends, mostly military brats, who had spent their high school years invading each other's houses like family, having sleepovers and playing Halo. When they were younger, they caused the "boys will be boys" brand of trouble stealing bulbs out of porch lights, ringing doorbells and running away. Now they were acting their age more often.
One day, Price and buddies Terence Henderson and Marcus (last name not available) decided to head to Price's place. Marcus called shotgun. Henderson insisted on riding on top of the trunk.
Price began driving. He rounded a curve and paused at a stop sign. That's when they noticed Henderson was gone.
The boy had fallen off the back and hit his head. A day later, he was dead.
New Items in the RJ Online Database
New additions to the RJ Online research database over the last week addressed various topics including legal institutions, youth justice, probation, victim empathy, and national reconciliation. Check out the list of new entries below.
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.
Going Off Script: What is appropriate for a facilitator to say?
Recently, I was in a pre-conference with a young man who had stolen various types of signs -- street signs, stop signs, farm signs -- and felt it was just a joke and couldn't understand why it was such a big deal. I found myself wanting to tell a story about an incident that happened when I was in high school or college when a family friend was hit by a tractor trailer. The problem was that someone had stolen the stop sign at the intersection and the truck driver didn't know he was supposed to stop.
All this came to mind when I heard the young man say that taking the signs was just a joke and "everyone does it." I found myself wanting to lecture and tell him the story about my family friend and how the person who stole the sign was really responsible for the accident. But, I bit my tongue and listened to him tell his story. I did ask him to think about what the possible outcomes of taking the signs could be.
The conversation did cause me to re-examine my role and ask what is appropriate for a facilitator to say in a pre-conference setting.
Fife community service snow-clearers praised
Two Fife pensioners yesterday praised the work of community service workers who cleared snow and ice from their pavements after one elderly lady had been virtually housebound for three weeks owing to the Arctic conditions.
Ann McCauley (83) and Jean Mellon (76) were two residents at Balfour Court sheltered housing complex in Dunfermline who benefited from the work by offenders on community service, which was also praised by justice secretary Kenny MacAskill.
The decision to use the offenders was the brainchild of Fife Council’s social work department and Mr MacAskill, yesterday visiting the area, said employing the offenders was a good use of the taxpayers’ money.
Coming Together for Sam: FGDM (FGC) Helps a Family Find a Solution of Its Own
From the Restorative Practices E-Forum by Lynn Welden:
The Gordon family (names are fictitious), of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, USA, recently experienced a life-affirming restorative process — a family group decision-making (FGDM) conference (also called family group conferencing or FGC). The family (four young adult children — two boys and two girls — their divorced parents, Linda and Bob, as well as several members of their extended family) came together in an FGDM conference to help 17-year-old son Sam take better control of his life. The process worked extremely well for Sam, but what the family didn’t expect, they said, was that the FGDM would also enhance their connections and relationships in many other ways.
The F word, and what it really means
No, not that F word. I'm talking about forgiveness. Denise Green said, “What happened was out of my control, but how I respond is within my control.” Denise and her husband, Bill, found out that their son, William, was one of many children who had his organs removed for research purposes without consent from a local hospital in 1992.
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.
How to run a meeting like a restorative justice talking circle
from Kris Miner's blog:
Not everyone is comfortable with Circle, so over time, I have found ways to engage bits without making people freak-out and shut down. On the same hand, I’ve gotten quite confident at running a Circle, with skeptical people. (imagine a circle of attorney’s!)
Running a meeting like a Circle, I’ve promoted the interactive meeting format to include:
Thief returns stolen penguin with apology
Ten-year-old Alexis Hood read the letter of apology Wednesday while sitting next to her penguin that was stolen New Years Day.
"Dear family, we are very sorry for the trouble we have caused for your family," she read.