- Showing 10 posts published between Sep 01, 2011 and Sep 30, 2011 [Show all]
Circulos de Paz and the promise of peace: Restorative justice meets intimate violence
Circles of Peace/Circulos de Paz was founded in Nogales, Arizona in 2004 to address these myriad problems with both the criminal justice response to intimate violence and Batterer Intervention Programs. Circles of Peace is the first court-referred domestic violence treatment program to use a restorative justice circle approach to reduce violent behavior in families in the United States.
The program consists of twenty-six to fifty-two weeks of conferences, or "Circles," bringing partners who have been abusive (the "applicants") together with willing family members (including those who have been abused, the "participants"), support people, a trained professional facilitator, and community volunteers. The goal is to encourage dialogue about the incident, the history of violence in this family, and meaningful change.
Restorative practices in Latin America
Throughout Latin America, there are growing efforts to confront the social consequences of poverty and violence. Restorative practices provides an outlook that is appealing to many who are working to bring people together to resolve problems and transform the nature of society.
Miguel Tello, originally from Mexico, now lives and works in San Jose, Costa Rica. Tello first got involved with the IIRP when he contacted IIRP founder Ted Wachtel for permission to translate Wachtel’s article “Restorative Justice in Everyday Life” into Spanish to use at a Prison Fellowship International conference. Tello then took IIRP trainings and became an IIRP trainer.
Restorative justice in the community
Michael was 16. He was an angry kid. He spent most of his days just “hanging out” around the neighborhood. One day, Michael was “hanging out” in a small Lancaster grocery store. While he was in the store, Michael pulled a cigarette lighter out of his pocket, lit the corners of a few boxes on the shelves and watched as the flames spread. Then he ran away.
The fire caused $1500 worth of damage.
Michael got caught, and he was sent to juvenile court.
If we think about how the traditional criminal justice system would have most likely handled this, Michael would probably have been charged with arson (a felony), possibly charged as an adult, and likely would have been sent to juvenile detention or jail for some period of time. After coming out of detention or jail, having a felony record would have affected the rest of Michael’s life in numerous ways.
An apology is not good enough and neither is a conviction
Accountability is most powerful when an individual fully understands the effects of their actions on other people and not just the impersonal state.
Some did as soon as they woke up the next day, bewildered and remorseful. Bold acts that drew cheers on the 15th were inexplicable and humiliating on the 16th. Even many of those who felt no remorse felt the lash of global village justice in all its forms.
Remorse, no matter how sincere, is not enough. We had a deal: we respected them and they respected us. They broke that deal on June 15 (albeit impulsively in many cases) and a price must be paid. There are strong and widespread views that the criminal justice system is not up to the task because it is too slow and too weak. But another, more apt reason is that it is too impersonal. A guilty plea and imposition of a fine teaches nothing of the harm that’s been done.
RIP: Liz Elliott
from Brenda Morrison:
It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that Dr. Elizabeth 'Liz' Elliott, Founding Director of the Centre for Restorative Justice at Simon Fraser University, and recipient of the National Ron Wiebe Restorative Justice Award in 2010, passed away the morning of September 9, 2011; at home, peacefully, and in the company of her loving family.
We send our blessings to her family and many friends. She has touched many lives, and we all feel a great loss.
Liz's work touched many lives at Simon Fraser University, the School of Criminology, and the Centre for Restorative Justice.
Healing and "Collateral Damage": Prison is above all about loss
from the entry on Prison Culture:
About three weeks ago, I was privileged to keep a circle for the family of a young man who is serving a recently-imposed sentence of 7 years in prison. I am friendly with the young man’s sister and she was the one who asked me to organize a healing circle for the family. I was really blessed that a friend of mine who is a wonderful circle keeper partnered with me. The key to keeping a good circle is preparation and it took us almost a month to set this one up. We had to talk to everyone who was going to participate before we could actually keep the circle.
After speaking to everyone involved, it became clear to us that the main emotions that folks wanted to process were grief and anger. I want to talk a bit about both.
Where are the personal apologies for the Freedom Riders?
There has been only a single personal apology for the events that happened 50 years ago. Elwin Wilson, a former member of the KKK, drew the first blood of the Freedom Ride when he attacked John Lewis as he stepped into the bus station in Rock Hill, S.C. He traveled to Washington, D.C. in 2009 to find John Lewis -- now Congressman Lewis -- and to tell him he was sorry.
Congressman Lewis described the meeting to Oprah like this: "He said, 'I attacked you, and I'm sorry. I want to apologize. Will you accept my apology?' And I said, 'Yes.' And he gave me a hug, and he started crying. I hugged him back, and I shed some tears also."
"He's the first and only person who has ever apologized to me."
Alberta solicitor general to fight for restorative justice
from the article at CBC News:
Alberta's solicitor general is vowing to fight to restore funding for restorative justice programs in the face of mounting criticism from his party and a retired chief justice.
"I will fight to restore it," Frank Oberle told CBC News. "I'm going to fight to restore the grant money next year."
Oberle said he was forced to eliminate the $350,000 grant for the program to reach budget targets.
His department is responsible for jails in Alberta and most of his budget is taken up by salaries where there is no room to cut.
Murderers turned peacemakers
How is it that women, with dark pasts, serving time for murder and manslaughter, could possibly become honored peacemakers?
Their story is one of personal commitment to themselves and the community in which most are destined to live out their lives. “This is an environment filled with conflict and violence. There is a dire need and want for change,” says Susan Russo, one of the fifteen initial peacemakers, serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole at the largest prison for women in the world, Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, CA. “Mediation interests all of us because we are lifers and long-termers hoping to make a difference in teaching our peers that there is a better way.”
Beginning her quest in 2007, Sue Russo wrote over 50 handwritten letters from prison to mediators all over California. Her letters went unanswered until August of 2009 when one of her letters made it to me, Laurel Kaufer, Esq., a Southern California mediator and peacemaker and founder of the post-Katrina Mississippi Mediation Project.
Our friends at Community Justice Initiatives British Columbia have just posted a free on-line publication, Walking the Talk: Developing Ethics Frameworks for the Practice of Restorative Justice, by Susan Sharpe. This resource is intended to help organizations sort out the values that they wish to live by. Given the difficulties of living by the principles we espouse in our organizations, this will be an important publication for those of involved in restorative justice programs.
Susan L. Miller’s After the Crime: The power of restorative justice – dialogues between victims and offenders (New York University Press, 2011) is a careful and readable examination of severe violence dialogue approaches.
Sep 05, 2011 Book Review