- Showing 6 posts filed under: Support [–] published between Mar 01, 2010 and Mar 31, 2010 [Show all]
Restorative Justice Centre's submission to Ministry of Justice on victims' rights
The Restorative Justice Centre at AUT University in New Zealand has responded to a discussion draft titled "A Focus on Victims of Crime: A Review of Victims' Rights" on how the government might better address the needs of crime victims. Following are excerpts from RJC's response:
9. The central justice needs of victims are submitted to be accountability, vindication, empowerment, information, truth-telling and future safety. Only the first and last of these are addressed (to some degree) by the current legal process, and then only when the offender is convicted. Thus in crimes that go largely unreported, such as sexual offences, there can be no feeling of accountability in the absence of alternative processes, and victims remain unsafe.
10. The remaining four central justice needs are those which Dr Howard Zehr, known to and used by MoJ as a consultant in restorative justice, has said are “especially neglected”. They are next mentioned separately. However they overlap with needs identified by other writers.
Tough on crime but short on logic
Promises beget price tags.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has revealed very little about the cost of the crime crackdown his government has begun and plans to extend in this session of Parliament.
The Department of Public Safety has estimates of the growth of the prison population but the minister, Peter Van Loan, refuses to make them public, citing cabinet confidentiality. The government has projections of the cost of imposing mandatory minimum sentences for drug offences, meting out longer jail terms and beefing up police forces. But it hasn't made them public.
Even in secrecy-obsessed Ottawa, however, some information gets out.
This month, Correctional Service Canada released its spending estimates for the coming fiscal year. They showed a 43 per cent increase in capital expenditures on penitentiaries.
In 2010-11, the government expects to spend $329.4 million on prison infrastructure. Last year's jail-building budget was $230.8 million. To put these numbers in perspective, Correctional Service Canada spent $88.5 million on prison construction when Harper took office four years ago.
More kumbaya, fewer criminals?
Do criminals just need to talk and get some perspective? Yes, the idea seems fluffy, but it looks like some types of talk actually work. "Restorative justice"--in which convicted criminals actually meet their victims--is rapidly gaining ground in the UK.
In one case recounted by Libby Brooks in the Guardian, the victim of a violent burglary wound up shouting at his attacker, telling him "he had crushed every belief [the victim] had that [he] could handle [himself] and protect [his] family." For the attacker, "this was the moment his perspective shifted irrevocably." Despite a history of criminality, he has not reoffended in the past eight years, and is in fact working as a "restorative conference facilitator."
Mugging victim Zoe Harrison 'helped to recover' by meeting her attacker Aaron Burns via restorative justice
When Zoe Harrison first came across Aaron Burns he held a knife to her throat and battered her so brutally he was spattered in her blood.
The last time Zoe, 26, came face to face with her mugger, she left him sobbing for forgiveness.
This is the power of restorative justice - making criminals say sorry to victims.
Locking up non-violent youths costs millions and does little to reduce crime
Whilst much of our work focuses on unnecessary imprisonment, we also champion alternatives to custody which have the potential to offer young people, and the communities they come from, a better deal. This is where restorative justice, a way of resolving conflict and repairing harm by bringing the offender and the victim together through closely managed ‘conferences’ or meetings, comes in.
The case for restorative justice, or restorative approaches as it is also known, has been building on the ground for some time now, with many schools and residential children's homes around the country using restorative practices to great effect as an alternative to traditional forms of punishment and conflict resolution.
True community policing means restorative justice
Community Policing has become one of those "assumed good things" that we all are supposed to support. But what do we mean by community policing? Does it mean we should be happy with just having a police officer at a community meeting, or on the street? Is a beat cop the whole story? Is there a role for the community beyond being informants?
My view of Community Policing has to do with merging community values and existing statues. Local communities need to be involved in helping community youth become aware and understand what is acceptable and what is not.