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Real People, Real Stories

Stories of actual victims, offenders and community members who have participated in restorative processes help illustrate the benefits and limitations of restorative justice practices.

Pretasky, Diane and Goodwin, Jan. Putting Out the Fire.
In December 2000, two teenage arsonists destroyed the home of Diane and Bill Pretasky. Both teenagers involved were convicted of the crime. Yet the Pretaskys still could not come to terms with why these two boys would do something so horrible. Diane and Bill were then approached by a Restorative Justice facilitator. Skeptical of Restorative Justice at first, the Pretaskys eventually decided they wanted to confront their teen offenders in a victim/offender conference and ask the questions that had haunted them since the fire. Meeting with both of the boys allowed the Pretaskys to put the arson behind them and move on with their lives. Abstract courtesy of the Marquette University Law School-Restorative Justice Initiative
Porter, Abbey J. Restorative Practices at Queanbeyan South, an Australian Primary School
Restorative practices have proved a success at a primary school in Australia, where teachers have discovered that discipline works much better when the children themselves take part in the process. A few years ago, Queanbeyan South Public School, in New South Wales, just outside the Australian capital of Canberra, was struggling with persistent problems of bullying, violence and absenteeism among its pupils. Conventional punishments like detentions and suspensions didn't seem to help. "We were just chasing our tails," recalled teacher Elizabeth Harley, who said that disrespect for authority and low self-esteem were common among the students. (excerpt)
Allena, Thom and Rogers, Nora. Conferencing Case Study: Hazing Misconduct Meets Restorative Justice--Breaking New Reparative Ground in Universities
While the Fraternity Executives Association officially discourages hazing in fraternities and sororities, the ritual of hazing is commonplace in Greek life at many large universities. It is employed often enough as a rite of passage – involving mental or physical discomfort, harassment, or ridicule – for those pledging to join a fraternity or sorority. Hazing frequently involves the use of alcohol, and it sometimes leads to unintended and harmful consequences. Thom Allena and Nora Rogers chronicle in this chapter a sorority hazing incident in a large public university in recent years. The incident resulted in physical and emotional injuries to two pledges, and it produced considerable adverse publicity for the sorority and the university. Allena and Rogers describe the incident and its consequences, as well as the response of university officials. In particular, they focus in detail on how university officials used a restorative justice intervention – actually, a hybrid of the community group conference model and “Open Space,â€? an organizational development approach employed to find common ground with large groups and organizations – to address the harmful effects of the hazing.
Ramsey, Jon. Integrity Board Case Study: Sonia's Plagiarism
Plagiarism is a significant problem on college campuses. In this study, Jon Ramsey tells of a case of plagiarism by a particular student, whom he names “Sonia.â€? As he remarks, he has changed her name and some details of the case to preserve confidentiality about the misconduct and the people involved in adjudicating it through a college integrity board. This is important to do, he observes, yet it runs somewhat counter to the openness generally valued in restorative justice theory and processes. In describing the plagiarism and its handling by the integrity board, Ramsey explores traditional assumptions about lines of authority in a college, individual and community responsibilities, and the efficacy of excluding offenders from or reintegrating them into the learning community.
Mikus, Robert L. Conferencing Case Study: Community Accountability Conferencing with a Recalcitrant Johnathan
Jonathan was a student with a number of infractions of the student code of conduct at his college, as well as a couple of citations by local police. Much of his misconduct was alcohol-related. Various judicial sanctions applied by the school did not change his behavior significantly. After one more incident, and with all the normal sanctions having been used to no avail, the college judicial officer gave Jonathan one more chance if he would agree to participate in a Community Accountability Conference (a restorative justice practice) to address the behavior and its underlying causes. Robert Mikus recounts Jonathan’s reluctant and often recalcitrant involvement in the conference process, the agreement that came out of it, and the eventual outcome for Jonathan.
Akchurin, Roane and Van Meter, Amy and Mori, Pricilla and Ester, Joyce. Conferencing Case Study: The Lounge, Leg Hair, and Learning
To demonstrate the application of restorative justice in a campus setting, the authors present an account of a restorative justice process used in an actual case at the University of California-Santa Barbara in 2001. (Names of participants are changed in this account to safeguard confidentiality.) It involved vandalism of a lounge in a student residence hall. Because of the amount of damage, the vandalism constituted not only an infraction of university rules but also a felony subject to criminal consequences. The authors explain the following: the investigation into the incident; the initial meeting between the perpetrator and facilitator; the restorative justice conference employed to deal with the misconduct; the parties involved; the agreement negotiated for the perpetrator to take responsibility for his behavior; and the follow-up to the agreement.
Sebok, Tom. Conferencing Case Study: Kenny's Celebration
In this chapter, Tom Sebok illustrates a restorative justice conferencing model in a university setting through a particular case study. The case involved drunken and disorderly behavior by a student both on campus property (the University of Colorado) and in town (Boulder, Colorado). In fact, he was arrested by a town police officer, then booked and temporarily jailed at the police station. Through this process, his behavior came before the university’s student judicial affairs system. Sebok describes key facts of the case, a community group conference which addressed the behavior, the negotiated agreement whereby the student took responsibility for his actions, and the longer term outcome for the student.
Hastings, Don and Becidyan, Vané. Integrity Board Case Study: Pellet Gunshots in the Night
An integrity board, as practiced at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, is a restorative justice approach to student judicial affairs. In this chapter Don Hastings and Vane Becidyan illustrate the use of the integrity board model through a case study based on an actual incident at a small college in upstate New York. (They have changed the names and a few facts to respect the confidentiality of the involved parties.) Two college students at the college were charged with violations of the state penal code due to their firing of a pellet gun out of their dormitory room window. While their case was tried in the city’s criminal court, the students were also brought before the college’s integrity board. Hastings and Becidyan describe the composition of the board, the parties involved in the case, the hearing process, the negotiation of a restorative contract to address the actions and harms, and reflections on the case by Hastings (the board’s administrator) and Becidyan (the board’s student chair).
Dinnan, Chris. Grossly Negligent Operation with Death Resulting: A Conferencing Case Study
This chapter presents a case study of a restorative process. The case involved reckless driving that resulted in death.
Jones, Mike. Surrogate Mediation for Murder Victim's Daughter
This article tells the personal stories of a victim who wanted to meet with the offender who murdered her mother and an offender her wanted to meet with his daughter after killing his wife. Since the two cases were not found suitable for direct victim/offender mediation, the two individuals chose surrogate mediation.
Hutchison, Katy. The Story of Bob
Katy Hutchison shares a compelling, real life story with the justice community. In this very personalized presentation, entitled The Story of Bob, Katy clearly describes how alcohol and other drug use, peer pressure, and misguided choices in an unchaperoned setting caused the tragic murder of her husband Bob. Through a powerful and poignant multi-media presentation, Katy shares how this traumatic event impacted her as a wife and as a mother of two young children. Her personal and interactive presentation is designed to explores the power of forgiveness and describes her own grassroots quest for restorative justice. Katy has participated in a victim offender reconciliations with both her husband's assailants. She has continued to communicate with one of the offenders and is hoping to have him work with her as she continues to tell her story to school classrooms, offender groups, victim service providers, justice conferences and restorative justice forums. Since September 2004 Katy has addressed over 50,000 people in her audiences. In addition, she is currently working on two documentary projects (one commercial and one educational) and a book proposal. Abstract courtesy of the Centre for Justice and Peace Development, Massey University,
Editor. Enlightening experience
Being part of a restorative justice conference was an enlightening experience for Sergeant Andrew O’Reilly. “I can be as cynical as the best of them, but this conference was quite interesting. “It definitely opened my eyes to the way restorative justice can have a beneficial effect. I think it’s a positive process. “It is case specific, and each case needs to be weighed up on its merits.â€? The conference Andrew attended related to a road fatality. (excerpt)
Editor. Potential for Cross-cultural Healing
Two recent restorative justice conferences held on a marae demonstrated the potential for cross-cultural healing through the court-referred restorative justice process. The conferences followed guilty pleas by three young men who had damaged an irreplaceable Maori carving at the entrance to the whare. (excerpt)
Kelly, Russell. Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program – In the Beginning
Russell Kelly is now a restorative justice practitioner in Kitchener, Ontario. In 1974 he was a teenager who, with a friend, both under the influence of alcohol, committed a number of acts of vandalism one night in Elmira, Ontario. After being apprehended, they were turned over to Mark Yantzi, a probation officer and volunteer with the Mennonite Central Committee in Kitchener, and to Dave Worth, another volunteer. Yantzi and Worth, in coordination with the courts, arranged for the teenagers to meet with their victims to apologize, to hear their victims’ statements, to ask forgiveness of their victims, and to determine restitution. Thus arose the Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program in Kitchener and an oft-repeated story of the emergence of modern day victim-offender mediation.
Blomquist, Todd. Restorative Justice – Reflections on Dialogue
At the time of writing this reflection, Todd Blomquist was a resident of the Restorative Justice Unit at Grande Cache Institution, Alberta, Canada. Here he shares aspects of his personal journey into crime, as well his experiences in prison, particularly his exposure to restorative justice ideas and values through peacemaking circles at Grande Cache Institution. He credits these circles with his growing awareness of the impact of his crimes and his lifestyle decisions on himself and on others. He expresses the growth and hope he has gained from restorative justice ideas, the circles and peer support in the Restorative Justice Unit, and the welding career he is learning while incarcerated.
Radunsky, Pam. Reflections on ‘Engaging Us All in the Dialogue’
In this short essay, Pam Radunsky reflects personally on the meaning of the theme for Restorative Justice Week 2004 in Canada: “Engaging Us All in the Dialogue.‿ Her sister, Kristen French, was abducted and murdered by two men in southern Ontario in 1992. The same men abducted and murdered several other young women over a period of time. Recounting the effects of the crime and the criminal justice process on her and her family, as well as numerous conversations she has had over the years with others about this trauma and about the experiences of other crime victims, she notes that engaging in this kind of dialogue is anything but pleasant. Nevertheless, she underscores the deep value of dialogue for those affected by crime. Out of all of this, Radunsky has become a restorative justice practitioner in Ontario.
Walker, Lorenn. Beyond Policy: Conferencing on Student Misbehavior
In this article Lorenn Walker looks at the use of conferencing to deal with student misbehavior. Conferencing is a process for conflict resolution. It focuses on repairing relationships when offenders admit wrongdoing. The process brings together the parties who have a stake in the conflict and its potential resolution: victims; offenders; families and friends; and communities. While it is often used in criminal justice settings, many are employing it in school settings as well. Walker recounts the story of using a conference to deal with her own son’s victimization by another student in school. She describes the conference process, the Real Justice model of conferencing, and benefits of conferencing in terms of addressing the infraction and in decreasing repeat offenses.
Radunsky, Pam. Restorative Justice: Humanizing Justice
Restorative Justice Week is a week dedicated to education about and advancement of restorative justice among churches and the public in general. Pam Radunsky presented this paper at a public forum entitled "Restorative justice: Humanizing justice" during Restorative Justice Week 2003, held in Ottawa, Canada, November 19. In this address, Radunsky relates the effects on her and her family from the abduction and murder of her younger sister in Canada. She explains their experiences of the criminal justice system, and she goes on to discuss the changes she and her family underwent in the months and years after the end of the formal court proceedings. In particular Randunsky describes how, through all of this, she eventually began to work in restorative justice to help bring victims and offenders together through community justice conferencing and the Collaborative Justice Project in Ottawa.
Dunn, Michel. Restorative Justice
Restorative Justice Week is a week dedicated to education about and advancement of restorative justice among churches and the public in general. Michel Dunn presented this paper at a public forum entitled “Restorative justice: Humanizing justice" during Restorative Justice Week 2003, held in Ottawa, Canada, November 19. According to Dunn, while restorative justice as a term is a relatively new concept in Canada, it is in fact an approach to wrongdoing that is much older. Aboriginal people have used this kind of approach for a long time. Dunn goes on to point out that restorative justice has even been applied for a long time to deal with the most serious crime of all – murder. He illustrates this using his own life as example. When he was younger, Dunn killed his law partner, a crime for which he was convicted and incarcerated. In this paper he recounts his journey back from that darkness through the restorative efforts of a number of people visiting him in jail.
Nelson, Tanya. Meeting Offenders: How A Restorative Justice Program Changed A Robbery Victim’s Life.
On September 4, 1999, the way I view the world changed forever when I was robbed at gunpoint at an ATM. Here I am, almost seven years later a changed person, excited to talk about what Restorative Justice and Victim/ Offender Conferencing have done for me. To my own surprise, I have found Restorative Justice has the power to take away much of the anger I felt, empower me, and ultimately give me a sense of peace I never thought I'd have again.(excerpt)

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