January 2008 Edition
Over the last year, we have seen the continuing interest in restorative justice as programmes are implemented and more research is done. This includes the creation of a Handbook on Restorative Justice by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, activities from Latin America to Eastern Europe to the Pacific and the release of various studies about the effectiveness of restorative programmes. The stories below appear in the order in which they were featured on the site since January 2007.
United Nations Publishes Handbook on Restorative Justice
In December 2006, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime published the Handbook on Restorative Justice Programmes. One in a series of tools developed to assist governments with criminal justice reforms, the Handbook offers practical information on the concept of restorative justice, the types of restorative processes used throughout the world, and how to create and manage those programmes.
RJ City Website Launched
Would you like to work in RJ City? This is an imaginary City that has decided to respond to all conflict, crime, victims and offenders as restoratively as possible. A conceptual foundation has been laid suggesting how this might be done. Now it is time to add programmes, systems and processes to bring it alive. A new website offers all interested people the opportunity to collaborate in "building the future of justice."
Government Report Urges Expanding Restorative Justice Services in Ireland
In January, a parliamentary committee released a report exploring the current use and possible expansion of restorative justice throughout Ireland. The report concludes with 12 recommendations for strengthening restorative justice programmes, including providing more State support for current programmes, developing legislation, and increasing awareness about restorative justice among criminal justice professionals and the community.
Juvenile Re-Offending after Family and Victim Offender Conferences
In 2000, the Australian state of Northern Territory implemented a juvenile pre-court diversion scheme. Teresa Cunningham summarizes her research study into the scheme’s impact on re-offending.
New Study Shows Benefits of Restorative Justice
Last month a London based think tank, the Smith Institute, released a study on the benefits of programmes with “good quality restorative justice practice.” The findings, drawn from 36 studies in the UK and internationally, showed that participation in restorative justice practices can have a significant impact on the re-offending rates of some offenders and can provide benefits to victims.
The Effect of Article 10 of the EU Framework Decision on the Standing of Victims
In 2001, the European Union adopted the Framework Decision on the Standing of Victims in Criminal Proceedings with article 10 calling Member States to promote the use of mediation in response to criminal offences. This article by Vera van der Does summarizes her Master’s thesis research into the impact of this EU level legislation. A link to her complete thesis is provided.
Organizing Ex-Combatants for Peace in Mozambique
As violent civil conflicts end, ex-combatants are sometimes treated as a risk to social peace and stability. Yet, as one organization in Mozambique demonstrates, ex-combatants can be key players in the peacebuilding process, promoting peace and reconciliation, and mediating peaceful solutions to conflicts.
Lee County Victim Offender Conference Program
The Lee County Victim Offender Conference (VOC) Program is a relatively new outgrowth of the Illinois Balanced and Restorative Justice Initiative. VOC provides victims with an opportunity to meet with first time young offenders as a diversion from court. In this article, Mary Huffman of Lee County Probation provides an overview of the development of Lee County VOC.
Restorative Justice in Ethiopia
In response to problems such as inefficient court processes and prison crowding, countries throughout Africa are looking to revive traditional justice processes and implement restorative practices as an alternative to incarceration. In this article, Dr. Julie Macfarlane of the University of Windsor in Canada describes her experience of offering a restorative justice workshop for justice officials in Ethiopia as well as her subsequent work drafting legislation to incorporate restorative justice into the criminal justice system.
Victims’ Perceptions of Fairness and Victim Offender Mediation
Many studies have shown that victims who participate in restorative processes are highly satisfied that justice has been done. What about those processes contributes to this perception? This article is based on a paper from the fall 2006 issue of the journal Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice.
Community Justice Centers in Armenia
In 2006, two Community Justice Centers opened in Armenia to provide restorative justice services to first-time young offenders. They were developed by an NGO, Project Harmony, and Armenian law enforcement professionals and educators. In this article, Renee Berrian, programme manager with Project Harmony, provides an overview of the development of the Community Justice Centers in Armenia.
Youth Diversion in Tonga
In late 2006, the Tongan Ministry of Justice created a youth diversion programme to quickly respond to offending by young first-time offenders. This article, written by Dr. Maxwell and Sean Buckley of the Victoria University of Wellington, presents the findings from their April 2007 interim progress report on the pilot project.
Developing Restorative Juvenile Justice in Peru
In Peru, the majority of juvenile offenders are incarcerated, even in cases of petty crime, with close to 68% having sentences of three years or less. This is true despite the inclusion of alternative sentences such as community service and remission of the sentence in the penal code. To address this reality the Switzerland-based NGO Terre des Hommes designed and implemented a pilot project called Justicia Para Crecer to introduce concepts of restorative justice. Partners in this project include the Peruvian NGO Encuentros –Casa de la Juventud and different government entities in the areas of el Agostino and Chiclayo.
Attitudes of Victims and Offenders toward Restorative Justice
A June 2007 report from the Ministry of Justice in the UK reports the attitudes of victims and offenders participating in three different restorative justice schemes from 2001-2004. The evaluation shows that the majority of victims and offenders found the restorative justice process satisfactory, with communication being listed as one of the most important elements of the process.
2007 International Prize for Restorative Justice Awarded to PEACE Foundation Melanesia
The 2007 International Prize for Restorative Justice has been awarded to PEACE Foundation Melanesia (PEACE) for its remarkable and important peacemaking work in post-war Bougainville. The $5000 (US) prize was presented in Toronto, Ontario by the Centre for Justice and Reconciliation at Prison Fellowship International (which publishes Restorative Justice Online) and Prison Fellowship Canada.
RJ in Moldova: The Institute for Penal Reform
In recent years, the Republic of Moldova has begun using restorative justice processes. This required new legislation and development of pilot projects using victim offender mediation in both juvenile and adult cases. A major supporter and advocate for these changes has been the Institute for Penal reform founded in November 2001.
Online Training on Conflict Resolution
Aik Saath is a peer training team in Slough, England, made up of people between 13 and 25 years of age. It was started in response to incidents of interracial violence among young Asian people in their community. (“Aik Saath” means “together as one” in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.) The group offers conflict resolution and anger management training at schools and other agencies working with youth.
Introducing Restorative Practices into Scottish Schools
In 2004, the Scottish Executive allocated funding for a 30-month pilot project to introduce restorative practices into schools in three Local Authorities. An August 2007 evaluation report outlines the implementation process for the different areas and the progress made in establishing restorative practices in the school.
Real People, Real Stories: Victims Face Fear and Find Healing in Prison
The Sycamore Tree Project® (STP) brings indirect victims and offenders together for a series of in-prison meetings to discuss crime and its impact. Recently, the Australian Broadcasting Company radio programme "Street Stories" followed two victims as they participated in a STP course in Acacia Prison. Through the interview, the victims tell their stories of victimization and describe the myriad of emotions and thoughts they experienced in the programme.
Diverting Young Adults from Prison in NSW
The New South Wales (NSW) Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research recently released an evaluation report of a pilot community conferencing programme targeting young adults. The programme seeks to divert persons between the ages of 18 and 24 from prison to community conferences. The report discusses results from a survey of conference participants as well as interviews and focus group meetings with key stakeholders in Liverpool and Tweed Heads – the two local courts participating in the pilot programme.
Creating Alternatives for Young Offenders in Toronto
An innovative diversion programme offers young offenders in the Greater Toronto area an opportunity to clear their records and contribute to the community. Called PACT (for participation, acknowledgement, commitment, and transformation), it partners with youth courts to provide a restorative justice and community service alternative in sentencing young offenders.
South Australia: Nunga Court II – Aboriginal Sentencing Conferences
The Nunga Court of South Australia was established in 1999 to provide a culturally relevant sentencing option for Aboriginal offenders. 2005 legislation legitimizing the Nunga court required that victims be given the opportunity to participate in addition to the offender, elders, and community members. In response, the regional court in Port Lincoln is piloting an Aboriginal Sentencing Court incorporating elements of the Nunga Court model and restorative conferencing and sentencing circles from Canada. This article summarizes a paper by Dr. Andrew Cannon, Deputy Chief Magistrate and Senior Warden for South Australia, describing the new Aboriginal Sentencing Conferences. A link to the full paper is below.
Making Sense of North American and South African Differences in the Practice of Restorative Justice
Cultural realities in North America and South Africa influence the way practice is undertaken. In this article, Susan Sharpe and George Lai Thom explore how those differences impact the practice of victim offender mediation in those two contexts.
Recent additions to Restorative Justice Online.