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Homicide

Restorative justice for homicide survivors and perpetrators.

Restorative justice, survivors and the death penalty
by Dan Van Ness Two interesting items appeared on my desktop today, both about the death penalty. One, titled Conn. Home Invasion Survivor Faces Long Court Case, begins this way: NEW HAVEN, Conn. – At 52, Dr. William Petit faces years — perhaps decades — of emotionally draining court hearings before the two men charged with murdering his family in a 2007 home invasion may be convicted and executed.
Peterson Armour, Marilyn. Journey of Family Members of Homicide Victims: A Qualitative Study of Their Post-homicide Experience
Family members of homicide victims are a neglected population whose post-homicide experience is shaped by the social milieu and primacy of the state’s agenda for justice. Themes derived from interviews with 14 families about their lived experience are analyzed and explored through the lens of social constructionist theory, and implications for clinical practice and policy are presented. Author's abstract.
Umbreit, Mark S. Rejoinder: Reply to Radelet and Borg
Mark Umbreit and Betty Vos contributed an article to this issue of Homicide Studies on the restorative benefits of family survivors of homicide meeting with the offender before execution of the offender. Michael Radelet and Marian Borg, while not challenging the perspective that the state should promote restorative justice in situations of homicide, responded to Umbreit and Vos in the same issue that the most effective way the state could promote restorative justice would be to abolish capital punishment. Here, Umbreit replies to the response by Radelet and Borg. Umbreit claims that Radelet and Borg miss the central point of the data presented in his original article (co-authored with Vos), as well as the larger theory of restorative justice.
Armour, Marilyn Peterson. Experiences of Co-victims of Homicide: Implications for Research and Practice
Co-victims of homicide are a hidden and sparsely researched group whose needs, as crime victims, are neglected and subsumed by the state’s agenda for retributive justice. Likewise, their unique and distinct problems are given little consideration in the literature. This article appraises the relevance of the literature on trauma, bereavement, and meaning-making to this population; examines the research on covictims; and discusses the implications for research, practice, and policy. The review shows that trauma reactions are considered the major criterion of severity of victimization consequences. The emphasis on trauma, however, eclipses the significance of an invalidating social milieu and the efforts of covictims to regain their footing. (author's abstract).
Associate Justice Smart and Justice Simpson and Chief Justice Spigelman. R v Qutami.
In Regina v. Hami Qutami, the Crown or government appealed against the sentence imposed by the District Court upon Hami Qutami for the offense of soliciting to murder. The District Court sentenced Qutami to imprisonment of four years, five months, and twenty one days, with a non-parole period of eleven months and twenty one days. The Crown appealed on grounds of the inadequacy of the sentence. This document summarizes the facts of the case; the District Court judge’s findings which led to the sentencing disposition (including the offender’s religious and cultural background, current social situation, the community setting and support, emotional state, medical state, character, and prospects for reconciliation with the prospective victim and restoration of community harmony); the Crown’s arguments for a more severe sentence; and the Court of Criminal Appeal’s ruling.
Burnett, Cathleen . Restorative Justice and Wrongful Capital Convictions: A Simple Proposal
In discussions regarding how to compensate those wrongfully convicted of serious crimes and imprisoned most of the strategies focus on the legal system as the appropriate arena for a remedy. The problem with legal remedies, however, is the unintended consequences that create barriers to reintegrating the wrongfully convicted back into society. Following a review of the problem, which is that those wrongfully convicted of serious crimes are not eligible for the minimal State supports offered to offenders released from prisons and are thus less prepared to reintegrate into society. In cases where they are eligible for the minimal supports, that is all they received in the form of legal redress. Most States do not have well-defined mechanisms to compensate those wrongfully convicted and only 20 States have mechanisms for seeking some amount of financial redress. The solutions currently available to compensate the wrongfully convicted are presented and critiqued as less than adequate. The three main types of solutions, lawsuits, private legislation, and private donations, all grew out of the legal system’s traditional justice model. The author presents a restorative justice solution to compensate the wrongfully convicted that is extrajudicial and is grounded in the executive branch’s responsibility to provide for the administration of justice. The main argument is that State resources should help the wrongfully convicted integrate back into their legitimate community life; an emphasis is placed on community participation and support. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.org
Umbreit, Mark S. Mediating homicide cases: A journey of the heart through dialogue and mutual aid
abstract unavailable
Umbreit, Mark S. Survivors of homicide victims confront the offender
abstract unavailable
Bradshaw, William and Umbreit, Mark S and Peterson, Michael and Coates, Robert B. Family survivors of homicide meet the offenders: A case study of the experience, key issues and intervention process
This article presents two case studies that represent the first examination of any capital murder cases involving a victim offender mediation/dialogue session between a surviving family member and the death row inmate facing execution shortly after the mediation session. The 5 participants (3 surviving family members and 2 offenders) in these ground-breaking death row mediation/dialogue sessions stated that this intervention had a powerful impact on their lives; all had been moved beyond their expectations, all were relieved, all reported significant progress on their healing journeys, and all were grateful for the opportunity. Furthermore, all 5 persons pointed to the same set of components to account for their response. The authors suggest that practitioners and policy makers should give serious consideration to cautiously expanding opportunities for such restorative encounters that are initiated and requested by victims and surviving family members of severely violent crime. (authors' abstract)
Lemonne, Anne. Victim Policy and Restorative Justice Policy Regarding Serious Cases in Belgium.
The presentation aims to analyse the evolution of restorative justice practices in Belgium in the light of the policy in favour of victims and hence to explore the potential paradoxes between restorative justice developments and victim policy. It focuses on the way the Belgian criminal justice system currently deals with victims in cases of serious violence. I a first part of the presentation, the contrast between existing programs (victim oriented programs such as victim impact statements at the level of conditional release and restorative justice programs such as mediation for redress) will be explored at a discursive level. In a second part of the presentation, results from interviews with victims and observations in victim services realised in the framework of an evaluative research on victim policy developed by the National Institute of Criminalistics and Criminology will be discusses. Case studies and victim perceptions of the current measures implemented both in the field of victim programs and restorative justice programs will be presented. The purpose of the contribution is to highlight to which extent victim oriented and restorative justice programmes have the potential to answer to victims’ need and the explore potential paradoxes of restorative justice. (excerpt)
Guillamat, Ansel and Casado, Clara and de la Camara, Belen. Victim and Offender Reintegration in a Serious Crime Case. learning from Mediation During the Sentence.
This workshop aims to share the reflections and lessons from a restorative mediation done in a sexual offence case in which the victim was the sister of an offender’s friend and where the victim’s husband and the father also participated. The mediation process was managed by two mediators within the Mediation-Restoration Programme operating in the criminal justice system in Catalonia since 1998. The referral came from the Figueres Penitentiary Centre, more precisely from the professionals in charge of the inmate’s rehabilitation needs and it lasted for approximately a year, finishing in April 2005. (excerpt)
Andrews, Arlene and Britto, Sarah and Beck, Elizabeth. In the Shadow of Death: Restorative Justice and Death Row Families.
This is not a typical book about the death penalty debate that focuses specifically on the pros and cons of capital punishment. Rather, our purpose is to highlight the experiences of capital offenders’ family members. And while the many issues offenders’ family members face will certainly add crucial elements to any debate about the death penalty, this is not the raison d’être of this book. Offender’s family members are important in their own right and their stories and experiences provide insight into the complicated nature of the human condition. Though most readers will hopefully never have to experience the tragedy of either losing a loved one to murder or losing a loved one through capital punishment, many of us can relate as professionals working with or within the criminal justice or mental health system, parents, siblings, and community members to the many perspectives on guilt, vengeance, mercy and forgiveness that are explored herein. (excerpt)
Acker, James R and Karp, David R. Wounds That Do Not Bind: Victim-Based Perspectives on the Death Penalty
This volume presents perspectives of murder victims' family members, academics, and crime victims' advocates regarding an intensely debated issue about which surprisingly little information exists: the significance of capital punishment to murder victims' survivors. The book includes more than twenty chapters that examine a variety of issues concerning these survivors, or co-victims, and the death penalty. These chapters present the personal accounts of victims' family members' experiences with the criminal justice system and examine relevant legal and research issues, including the use of victim impact evidence in capital trials, how the capital punishment affects co-victims, what is known about the immediate and long-term needs of murder victims' survivors, and how these needs can be addressed. (publisher's description)
Sheffer, Susannah and Cushing, Robert R. Dignity Denied: The Experience of Murder Victims' Family Members Who Oppose the Death Penalty
There is a need for policies to challenge the victim services community to develop a protocol that recognizes opposition to the death penalty as a valid response to the trauma of murder. When victims’ rights and services are linked and subordinate to prosecutors’ offices, they are often granted and enforced only at the prosecutor’s discretion. The family members’ willingness to cooperate with that office is critical to their being granted rights and services. When the prosecution is seeking the death penalty, victims’ family members that don’t want the death penalty imposed are automatically in conflict with the prosecution’s agenda. There is an inequity in the treatment of homicide survivors and in the application and enforcement of victims’ rights laws. A fundamental challenge to society is to recognize a distinct subgroup of victims; acknowledge that they have not been well served in the past and that harm has sometimes been done; and make a commitment to treating such victims equitably from now on. It is recommended that an amendment to Federal and State victims’ rights laws guarantee equality of all victims under the law and to ban discrimination based upon a victim’s position on the death penalty; victims’ services programs dedicated solely to serving the needs of all victims of crime. There should be recognition by Federal and State victims’ service agencies of murder victims’ family members that oppose the death penalty as a distinct subgroup of the crime victim population. A national protocol should be developed for serving victims’ families that oppose the death penalty. Such a protocol should identify and address the needs of these victims; set a standard of professional conduct for those that work with victims that includes equitable treatment of all victims, regardless of beliefs about the death penalty. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Referene Service, www.ncjrs.org.
Reed, Mark D and Leonard, Pamela Blume and Eschholz, Sarah and Beck, Elizabeth. Offenders' Family Members' Responses to Capital Crimes: The Need for Restorative Justice Initiatives
Based on qualitative interviews with 19 family members of homicide offenders tried in capital cases in the South, this study broadens the discussion of punishment for homicide to include using restorative justice to supplement the traditional judicial process in capital cases. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.org
Borg, Marian J and Radelet, Michael L. Comment on Umbreit and Vos. Retributive Versus Restorative Justice
In this essay, Michael Radelet and Marian Borg respond to an article by Mark Umbreit and Betty Vos in the same issue of Homicide Studies. Umbreit and Vos, focusing on restorative justice through dialogue, discuss situations where homicide survivors met the offender prior to execution. Radelet and Borg do not directly challenge the perspective of Umbreit and Vos that both family survivors of homicide and the perpetrator may derive benefits from dialogue. Rather, they argue that the state should promote restorative justice between survivors and offenders by abolishing capital punishment. Put another way, the state should stop promoting the belief – a false belief, in the views of Radelet and Borg – that capital punishment fosters healing for families of homicide victims.
Seemungal, Florence and Hood, Roger. A rare and arbitrary fate: conviction for murder, the mandatory death penalty and the reality of homicide in Trinidad and Tobago
Rare and Arbitrary Fate: Conviction for Murder, the Mandatory Death Penalty and the Reality of Homicide in Trinidad and Tobago, is a statistical study of reported murders and people indicted for murder between 1998 and 2002. It was researched and written by Roger Hood and Florence Seemungal from the Centre of Criminology, University of Oxford. The research was commissioned by PRI partner, Simons Muirhead & Burton, Solicitors, who run The Death Penalty Project. (publisher's abstract)
Kirchengast, Tyrone. Integrating a Victim Perspective in NSW Homicide Cases.
In Australia, where a victim dies as a result of an offence, a family victim impact statement may be tendered detailing the trauma occasioned to family members. All states except New South Wales (NSW) allow such statements to be considered during sentencing. Currently, NSW provides for the tenure of such statements but current authority excludes their consideration on the basis that such statements enable the valuing of one life as greater than another. This article discusses the need to reconsider this rule in accordance with recent Australian and international cases indicating the possible relevance of family statements to the sentencing process. This article further considers the need to redress the exclusion of family perspectives on the basis that their inclusion is consistent with policy changes to NSW law and practice in the mid 1990s integrating the victim in key legal proceedings and the justice system more generally. (author's abstract)
Turner, Ken and Turner, Lesley. The Power of Forgiveness
The Power of Forgiveness is the story of how one father chose to forgive the murderer of his daughter even though justice through the court system failed and outside influences called for justice through retribution. Ken Turner's faith in God helped him to persevere with his Christian walk despite the frustrations of an extended police investigation and a cold and unfeeling justice system. (Excerpt)
Acker, James R.. Hearing the victim's voice amidst the cry for capital punishment
This chapter critically examines the justifications for capital punishment offered in the name of murder victims and their survivors. It begins with a brief overview of death-penalty laws and practice in the United States, with a particular focus on whether capital punishment is likely to promote the interests of murder co-victims. It then explores the premise that victim impact evidence affords murder victims’ survivors meaningful input into the criminal justice process, a process that in capital cases has been activated to secure the offender’s death. Initiatives designed to infuse restorative justice into death-penalty systems then are reviewed. The chapter concludes by arguing that capital punishment offers false promises to murder victims’ survivors, more likely to be destructive and work new injustices than promoting principles faithful to restorative justice. (excerpt)

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