- Showing 10 posts published between Jan 01, 2010 and Jan 31, 2010 [Show all]
A restorative justice approach to working with children in residential care
From the paper by Dr. Willie McCarney presented at the 1st World Congress on Restorative Juvenile Justice. Lima Peru, 4-7 November 2009.
A child is at greater risk of obtaining a criminal record following entry to the care system than a child living at home with the support of his/her family. Consequently, there is a very real need to focus thinking on the reasons why this should be and to develop a response which may reduce that likelihood.
One of the greatest risk indicators is living in residential care and the collective influence of living with other troubled young people. Research suggests that much of the early offending takes place in the residential children's home and as the situation deteriorates increasingly the police are called in to defuse it and more often than not an arrest is the outcome.
The research referred to looks at offending behaviour in “regular” children’s homes. I will be focusing on Intensive Support Units which deal with the most damaged and troubled young people in residential care. Many of these young people already have a history of serious offending on entry to the units. Court appearances frequently relate to offences which predate their arrival. That is not to say that the research I will be commenting on does not apply to these particular children. Indeed the use of Restorative Practices is even more important in their case. What it does mean is that the baggage children carry with them on entry makes working with them so much more difficult. It also means that formal approaches like family group conferencing are not always practical. Responses need to be immediate and “on the hoof”. These might be things like a “corridor conference”, “restorative chat” or “restorative discussion”. Success depends not so much on the response chosen but rather on whether a “restorative ethos” permeates the unit.
Jan 18, 2010 Practice
Prisoners and Community Members Working Together?
In looking through my Twitter account, I read the line “Charity volunteers upset by prisoner work placement” with a link to a brief listing of newspaper articles. The dispute involved a charity shop where several elderly volunteers were told that the shop would be participating in a prison volunteer scheme bringing prisoners into to work alongside the volunteers. According to the article, they were to work with the prisoners or “be shown the door.” At the same time, the volunteers – some who had given years of service – expressed concerns about their personal safety.
As I read the article, I was of two minds. I see the value of having prisoners approaching release work in the community. This helps with the transition from the institutional environment to the challenges faced on the outside. It also provides a mechanism for those in prison to build pro-social relationships with community members. At the same time, I can understand the fear and hurt being expressed by the volunteers upon being informed of the scheme and not having a choice in the matter.
New Items in the RJ Online Database
New additions to the RJ Online research database over the last week addressed various topics including conferencing with juveniles, restorative justice in schools, theories of punishment, and transitional justice. Check out the list of new entries below.
Guantanamo Bay guard meets British ex-prisoners
A former Guantanamo Bay guard was reunited with two former prisoners from Britain for a BBC documentary. The meeting was a result of Brandon Neely, now a Texas police officer, contacting the two men on Facebook to apologise for his part in their imprisonment.
The two ex-prisoners, Shafiq Rasul and Ruhal Ahmed, were held in Guantanamo Bay for two and a half years before being released without charge in 2004.
In a short video from the BBC website, the men describe their emotions and thoughts approaching their meeting and at seeing one another again. Mr. Neely offers an apology for the way the men were treated.
Mark McGuire's Apology: Baseball and Restorative Justice
When's an apology not an apology? Does this question only apply to policies related to restorative justice and crime? I don't think so.
Mark McGuire's recent public apology for taking steroids during his career as a major league baseball player got me to thinking.
Though I'm no baseball expert I am a fan. I thought there was a lot of truth in this sportswriter's column. Can you apologise a little and cover your bases, so to speak? Why do we apologize ? Is the timing of one's apology important? Can a real apology help an offender "come clean"?
Lima Declaration on Restorative Juvenile Justice
In November 2009, the First World Congress on Restorative Juvenile Justice (Congress) --organised by the Foundation Terre des Hommes, the Public Prosecutor of Peru, the Pontificia Universidad Católica of Perú and the Association Encuentros-Casa de la Juventud -- was held in Lima, Peru. The nearly 1000 conference participants represented 63 countries and various groups such as governments, the judiciary, non-governmental organisation, and professional groups working with children. Five Congress objectives guided the deliberations:
- to reflect upon the concept of restorative juvenile justice and to undertake a critical viability
- to examine the methodology and instruments of restorative juvenile justice;
- to evaluate the situation of the victim in restorative juvenile justice and the need for her/his protection and reparation of damages;
- to exchange experiences and lessons learned and good practices of restorative juvenile justice worldwide;
- to elaborate and present some recommendations for the development and implementation of restorative juvenile justice.
The Lima Declaration reflects the deliberations and proposes a series of recommendations for promoting, developing, and implementing restorative practices as an integral part of juvenile justice.
Trauma and Restorative Justice
From Beth Caldwell's blog post at Visions of Justice:
I was given a wonderful opportunity in December. Proderecho, the organization in Oaxaca that has helped to connect me to the people and agencies responsible for juvenile justice here, invited me to participate in a course entitled “Seminars on Trauma and Resilience.” My classmates were a group of inspiring women, and two men, working in NGOs in Oaxaca, and in the state prosecutor’s office. The facilitators of the workshop were from Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
The central emphasis of the seminar is that trauma – when unresolved – leads to the infliction of further pain. This pain can be manifested internally – in the form of depression, self-harm, anxiety, relationship problems, and emotional difficulties. It can also be manifested externally, and can often cause those who have been victimized to act out towards others as victimizers.
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.
Brazil truth commission arouses military opposition.
From the BBC News article by Gary Duffy:
A package of reforms put forward by the Brazilian government to improve human rights is causing growing controversy.
A proposed truth commission to investigate torture during military rule is said to have so angered forces chiefs that they threatened to resign.
The National Human Rights Plan first provoked a row when it was revealed that it proposed setting up a truth commission to investigate torture and killings carried out during the 21 years the military was in control, from 1964 to 1985.
Although the number of victims in Brazil was far smaller than under military rule in neighbouring Argentina and Chile, hundreds of people died and thousands were tortured or forced into exile.
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.)