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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.

Miller, Stacey. The offspring of restorative justice: Understanding the power of restorative practices in residential communities.
Without question, restorative practices has its roots in the field of restorative justice. Originating in the 1970s as an accountability tool that allows victims to be heard and offenders to understand their impact, restorative justice is a complement to conventional criminal justice processes, focused on repairing harm, rather than only on punishing offenders. Several decades later many student conduct offices on college campuses adopted restorative justice as a key component to their conduct philosophies and methods of traditional sanctioning; however, there has been a shift to not only focus on repairing harm, but to find ways to proactively build community. At the University of Vermont, the Department of Residential Life has used restorative practices as an innovative community development model to cultivate communities of care and mutual respect. This article explains the connections between restorative justice and restorative practices and will highlight how restorative practices is used in residential environments. (author's abstract)
Marquette University Law School Restorative Justice Initiative. The healing circle: Victims of sexual abuse by clergy share their stories.
In November 2006, a small group of people gathered at the Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to participate in an extraordinary experience called--A Healing Circle. Everyone in the room had been deeply affected by the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. The group included victims, a priest offender, other members of the clergy, parish staff and lay people. Over the course of several hours, the participants shared their stories of pain and broken trust. (distributors description) (63 minute video)
Moore, Peni. Rehabilitation for Change in Fiji: A Women's Initiative
Peni Moore describes the work of Women's Action for Change in Fijian prisons. The group uses drama as an educational tool. The main goal was to help offenders understand the impact of their behaviors and to help them learn non-violent ways of dealing with conflict. The group worked to change attitudes towards domestic violence.
Dowell, Amy. Medley of Mediation Stories
This is a collection of stories from facilitators. These include: Victim Offender Mediation/Conferencing Stories; Community Mediation Stories and Articles; and Truancy Prevention Mediation Stories.
Lock, Jeff. Meeting of Minds
Jeff Lock – not his real name; the names in the article have been changed to protect those involved – is serving a life sentence in a prison in England. In this essay he discusses his experiences in meeting the people against whom he committed an offense and other mistreated people. After recounting his crimes – which were serious crimes of violence – he describes meeting his victims and the effects of the meetings on them and on him. His aim in all of this is to broaden an understanding of what may be possible when considering or applying restorative justice.
Claassen, Roxanne. From Principles to Practice
Roxanne Claassen, an eighth grade teacher at Raisin City Elementary School, introduces the "Principles of Discipline That Restores," written by her husband Ron, who is co-director of the Center for Peacemaking and Conflict Studies at Fresno Pacific University. Claassen’s school has adopted their "Making Things Right" curriculum, and she explains how the restorative principles were applied successfully in a serious conflict between two girls over a boyfriend.
Earl, Lee A. The spiritual problem of crime: A pastor’s call.
With considerable experience as pastor of a church, Lee Earl reflects concretely on the spiritual problem of crime and pastoral response to crime. He recounts the story of a homicide and his church’s reaction to it. That homicide, which occurred near his church and right after a Saturday evening choir rehearsal, became a test of the faith commitments of the church and of himself as a pastor. The victim was not a member of the church. Yet church members had some acquaintance with the victim and her family, and a few leaving the church that Saturday evening heard the shots and came upon the victim and her children. In the aftermath of the victim’s death, the church faced hard questions about its response to the incident and the family of the victim. Earl traces his role and the church’s journey in reaching out in love and support to the victim’s family and the neighborhood. As a result, the church became a catalyst for community regeneration.
Anonymous. Son, Your Sins are Forgiven
The author of this article reflects on his own personal experience in relation to the New Testament story of the paralyzed man who was lowered through the roof by his friends to be told by Jesus that his sins were forgiven and his infirmity was healed. According to the author, as a young person he experienced violence and sexual abuse from family and schoolmates. Tension and conflict, external and internal, were many and varied in his life. In the context of his experiences of victimization, he describes his struggle for spiritual and emotional healing within the restorative justice model, and the help he received from friends.
Wachtel, Ted. Real Justice. How we can revolutionize our response to wrongdoing
Ted Wachtel and his wife, Susan, founded the Community Service Foundation in Pennsylvania – a school and counseling agency for troubled youth – and REAL Justice – a program employing conferencing to bring together young offenders, victims, their respective supporters, and community members to try to resolve the harm of crime. Wachtel describes the origins, purposes, and processes of these programs for troubled young people. To illustrate key ideas and their development and implementation, he recounts his encounters with those who are pursuing similar efforts in New Zealand and Australia and elsewhere; and he relates real stories of youth crimes, their effects on individuals and communities, and attempts to deal with those crimes either through formal juvenile justice processes or through community-based informal processes such as conferencing. Particular topics discussed or illustrated in his book are conferencing, restorative justice, shame, the role and needs of victims, community, corrections, accountability for offenders, and the roles of government and the police in informal justice processes. Wachtel also advocates the extension of conferencing to spheres other than criminal justice, including schools, the workplace, and more.
Wiese, Kelly. Face-to-Face Justice: Why Restorative Justice Programs are Thriving in Missouri
The article reports on the progress of restorative justice programs in Missouri, most of which deal with juvenile offenders, and the success they have had in reducing recidivism rates.
Editor. A victim-offender conference following a burglary
In a burglary case, victim-offender conferencing helps the victims to move on from the trauma of the experience and the offender feel like he has begun to make reparations for his crime.
Franklin, Robert. Family confronts loss, convicted killers in search for answers
After their daughter was killed, Don and Mary Streufert, made the choice to go and visit the two convicted killers in prison. For six years, they have been a part of victim offender mediation with Guy Sullivan and James Swanson. It has been a transformative experience for their whole family.
Editor. What constitutes a good referral to restorative justice? The lessons to be learned from one victim offender conference
The article tells about a crime that occurred, the effects it had on the victim, the preparation that went into planning for a victim-offender conference, the actual conference proceedings, and the outcomes for the victim and the offender psychologically. It then draws conclusions about why the conference was successful and what needs to be present to make such a conference effective.
Editor. International Restorative Justice Week
Two women who presented at an event hosted by the Restorative Justice Unit in honor of International Restorative Justice Week tell about their experiences with victim-offender conferencing after being victimized.
Editor. April 2008 Participation in a Victim Offender Conference presents offenders with a number of opportunities
A story illustrates how a victim-offender conference can have positive effects for the offender who is finally able to make some headway on behavioral transformation.
Editor. Sino - Australian Seminar on the Protection of Criminal Victims
A report of the proceedings of the Sino-Australian Seminar on the Protection of Criminal Victims, where Chinese and Australian people involved with restorative justice came together to share information.
Editor. A victim-offender conference: putting the people most affected by a murder, the victims, at the centre of the process
After two young men fight resulting in the death of one, it takes eight years before a victim-offender conference is held. The conference brings peace to both the victim's mother and the offender.
DeVries, John. What would Restorative Justice look like in this case?
Before this mishap I had become an advocate for Restorative Justice. Having worked as a Chaplain in a Federal Penitentiary, I quickly learned that jail and imprisonment does punish, but does not make persons accountable for unacceptable behaviour. “The next time I won't get caught”, was a line I heard in the penitentiary. Do I charge Jack (18 yrs old)? My insurance agent said to charge him because you never know what the head injury could cause years from now. My lawyer said to charge him. The police had already reminded me that I could charge the errant young driver. Practice what you preach. What would restorative justice look like in this case, I wondered? (excerpt)
Nelson, Tanya. Merrill Middle School Meets Restorative Justice.
Schools are a microcosm of our world. They demonstrate the outcome of our investment, the potential, and its continuous need to adapt to changing times. Walking into an elementary school, middle school, high school, you may actually be able to feel this. Conflict is palpable much of the time. On the surface, Merrill Middle School in Oshkosh, WI, has a lot working against it. Oshkosh is a largely blue collar town and about 50% of Merrill's students are from families at or below poverty level. Many families are unable to stay an entire school year.Relationships are difficult to establish. How has Merrill brought it all together? In 2003, it ended its "honor level" approach to discipline in favor of a restorative justice approach. By creating circles and a core concept of restorative justice, staff and students have joined forces to create better communication when problems occur. (excerpt)
Botha, M. Elaine. Christian Scholarship for Reconciliation? The Free University of Amsterdam and Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education
The theme of this chapter deals with the question of whether the two mnodels of Christian scholarship pursued by the two institutions [Free University and Potchefstroom University] actually contributed to societal reconciliation - reconciliation within racial and ethnic tensions as they have become apparent in South Africa. This narrows the focus of of reconciliation to a societal and political focus, which in turn shapes the question of whether a university as an academic community can or ought to in any way contribute to or become involved in the resolution of such tension. (excerpt)

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