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Homicide

Restorative justice for homicide survivors and perpetrators.

Kay, Judith W.. Murder victims' families for reconciliation: story-telling for healing, as a witness, and in public policy
This chapter explains why telling stories can be both psychologically healing and politically necessary for murder victims’ family members who oppose the death penalty. After introducing a survivor group committed to death penalty abolition, it shows how reframed narratives about the deceased and/or the perpetrator inform some survivors’ opposition to the death penalty. The chapter examines the contested role of personal narratives in the community, the victim rights movement, the criminal justice system, and public policy, and how certain contexts can deprive narrative of most of its transformative power. (excerpt)
Restorative Justice Consortium.. Hearing the Relatives of Murder and Manslaughter Victims:Response to Government’s consultation from the Restorative Justice Consortium
We should make it clear at the outset what we are not proposing. Restorative justice is often proposed as an alternative to sentencing for less serious crimes, but that is obviously not the case with homicide. Secondly, it is often presented as an opportunity for the offender to apologize and the victim (in this case the relative) to forgive. The restorative justice process may make those interactions more likely, but it does not aim at them; it only provides a channel of communication for them to use in the way most helpful to them. There should be no expectation of an apology, which might not be sincere, and certainly no pressure for forgiveness, although evidence suggests that those who are able to forgive find it helpful. Thirdly, it does not consist merely in bringing the relative(s) and the offender together; it should begin with several interviews with both the relatives and the offender to make sure that they understand what the process may be like, to make as sure as possible that it will be constructive, and if there is a possibility that it will not go as expected, to prepare them for that (if they want to go ahead nonetheless) or to recommend that the contact should not proceed. The contact is not necessarily face-to-face – that is their choice - although the evidence suggests that the participants derive greater benefit when it is. What we are proposing is that relatives should be made aware that there are possibilities for them to communicate with the offender, with careful preparation, support and safeguards. This may lead to the results mentioned above; another result may be to discharge any hostile feelings so that when the offender is eventually released, both he or she and the relatives need no longer fear each other, if the offender returns to live in the same locality. (excerpt)
Office of Criminal Justice Reform. Hearing the Relatives of Murder and Manslaughter Victims.
This consultation paper describes proposed plans by the UK government to provide the relatives of murder and manslaughter victims a voice in criminal proceedings.
Booth, Tracy. The Aftermath of Homicide: Meeting Needs and Expectations of Survivors Through Conferencing in New South Wales
This paper aims to introduce an innovative family group conferencing program that has been recently implemented in New South Wales and to explore the program's potential to meet the needs and expectations of homicide survivors currently unmet by conventional criminal justice processes. The program is an overtly victim-oriented, communitarian model of restorative justice (Dignan and Cavadino (1996)) that operates on a post-conviction basis. There are no restrictions as to the nature of offences or offenders that may be the subject of a conference provided there is an identifiable victim. Using a case study of a recent conference involving a homicide, I will demonstrate the operation of the conferencing program and its application for homicide survivors. Author's abstract
Umbreit, Mark S and Vos, Betty. Homicide Survivors Meet the Offender Prior to Execution. Restorative Justice Through Dialogue
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 members and 2 offenders) in these ground-breaking dialogue sessions stated that this intervention had a powerful impact on their lives; all had been moved beyond their expectations, all were grateful for the opportunity. Furthermore, all 5 persons pointed out the same set of components to account for their responses. 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 crimes.
Zehr, Howard. Doing Life: Reflections of Men and Women Serving Life Sentences.
The author interviewed and photographed 70 men and women who are imprisoned for life, with little or no possibility of ever returning to society. All were convicted of homicide or being an accomplice to homicide. He offers some of their experiences and perspectives, in their own words, in an effort to present them as individuals rather than stereotypes. One of the themes that emerged during the interview sessions was the search for meaning, individuals' desire to make some good come out of the bad. Many of the people interviewed were involved in programs to assist others and to help young people avoid destructive situations. Others expressed a need to make each day count, to consciously work to do something worthwhile each day. Finding hope in an apparently hopeless situation drove many of them. So, too, did concern for their victims. While not all lifers are like those presented in this book, many do mature into thoughtful, responsible adults who are remorseful for what they have done and who seek ways to contribute to society.

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