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Restorative Justice and Sentencing

Articles and other resources on the issues and possibilities related to judges using restorative justice when imposing and (if necessary) enforcing sentences.

Oscar Pistorius' sentence: A missed opportunity?
from the post by Mike Batley on Restorative Justice Centre in South Africa: The sentence that Judge Masipa has decided on reflects the careful balancing act required of a diligent sentencing officer. She has taken the calls by the State for direct imprisonment into account but not to the extent the prosecutor wanted; she has taken into account the call by the defence for Oscar to make a contribution to society by not imposing as lengthy a term of imprisonment as she could have.... These are some of the broader dimensions that could have been explored:
Driver admits causing death: Case referred to restorative justice
from the article in Otago Daily Times: A man who yesterday admitted careless driving causing the death of another motorist will complete a restorative justice programme before being sentenced. Michael John Andrews (27), mine worker, of Queenstown, appeared before Judge Tom Broadmore in the Queenstown District Court and admitted causing the death of David Orchard on State Highway 1, Mangamaunu, Kaikoura, on March 6....
Restorative interventions needed for 97% cases where defendants plead guilt
from the entry by Lorenn Walker on Restorative Justice & Other Public Health Approaches for Healing: Not Guilty: Are the Acquitted Innocent? is an excellent new book by Dan Givelber, Northeastern Law School professor, and Amy Farrell Northeastern Criminal Justice School professor. In this easy to read book, the authors provide valuable information and insights into how judges and juries behave, and how understanding acquittals better (acquittals occur once in every 100 cases) could improve our justice system....
Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus talks restorative justice
from the interview with Kelly Pyzik for Scarlet & Black: ....First, could you tell me a little bit about the short course you taught at Grinnell the past two weeks? The purpose of the course was to introduce students to the principles of restorative justice and their historical roots, to discuss current restorative justice programs and applications of restorative principles and to compare how our country currently addresses conflict and wrongdoing with how we might address those matters using a more restorative approach.
Using restorative justice at the pre-sentence stage of the criminal justice process
from the article by Ian Marder in TransConflict: ....This process is similar in many respects to that envisaged by Schedule 15(2) of the Crime and Courts Bill, currently making its way through the British Parliament, which specifies that the judiciary in England and Wales may “defer the passing of sentence to allow for restorative justice”. Deferred sentencing, as outlined originally in s.22 of the 1972 Criminal Justice Act, enables the Courts to consider the conduct of an offender post-conviction, but prior to sentencing. Following recommendations to expand its use in the 2001 Review of the Sentencing Framework, deferred sentencing appeared most recently in law under Schedule 23 of the 2003 Criminal Justice Act, which extended the definition of the word “conduct” and outlined a variety of requirements which the Courts can order of an offender whose sentence has been deferred.
The three different levels of Restorative Justice
From the article by the Sentinel: Level One is for minor offences or non-criminal incidents like anti-social behaviour, which can be dealt with immediately by the officer at the scene. All Staffordshire officers are being trained in this area.
Green Paper: Breaking the cycle - Effective punishment, rehabilitation and sentencing of offenders
On s80 I am concerned that if offenders know beforehand that agreeing to attend a restorative meeting prior to sentencing may influence the sentencing outcome [...]
Green Paper: Breaking the cycle - Effective punishment, rehabilitation and sentencing of offenders
from the UK Government's new Green Paper: 78. We are committed to increasing the range and availability of restorative justice approaches to support reparation. Restorative justice is the name given to processes which provide victims with the opportunity to play a personal role in determining how an offender makes amends. This can often include direct reparation. A substantial minority of victims would consider meeting their offender by way of a restorative justice process and those victims who do report high levels of satisfaction. The evidence suggests that the approach may also have a positive impact on the offender’s likelihood of reoffending in the future. Getting an offender to confront the consequences of their crimes directly is often an effective punishment for less serious offences.
Criminals, community work together on successful mural project
From the article by Casey McNerthney: Talking Friday about criminals he was asked to work with on a community mural, Lake City resident Chuck Dickey recalled his first reaction. "I didn't want them here." Nearly two years ago, the city proposed sending the offenders to the neighborhood as part of the Community Court program. Officials say 50 repeat, non-violent offenders were part of the recent effort -- mostly people convicted of prostitution, theft and criminal trespass. The program gives misdemeanor offenders the chance to get social services and work on projects designed to pay back the community. Their work changed the minds of people like Dickey.
Prisons in the sky
A logical progression from the obscene supermax prisons. It shows how detached architects can be from real people, My wife taught in a school built [...]
Involving the community
I agree that the "vertical prison" design comes from the idea that separating people is necessary for "transformation." The reality is that this says more [...]
Prisons in the sky
by Dan Van Ness One of the persistent themes in penology has been the idea that architecture can help produce transformation in people. From the monastery-like isolation of prisoners in the Walnut Street Jail and its successor the Eastern State Penitentiary in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries to the Auburn model allowing for aggregate work but individual isolation, to Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon, to today's Supermax prisons, form has indeed followed function. Now eVolo magazine has awarded first place in its 2010 Skyscraper Competition to Malaysian architectural students for their Vertical Prison, conceived of as somehow floating high above the ground with elevator pods transporting prisoners, staff, food and so forth between the prison and earth. Prisoners would work in farms to supply earth with organic products. Those who behaved well would be given cells with windows pointed to the earth so they would be motivated to reform themselves. The naivete of the design (the prison floats without support in the sky) and reform strategy (the architecture students do not appear to have researched the history of prisons) is remarkable, as is that of the judges of the competition.
Footpaths to pathways
Tony Mulder is the Police Commissioner/Alderman of Bellerive, Tasmania, Australia. He writes in his blog: Alderman Tony Mulder has called for a change to Community Service Orders (CSO) for young offenders. Alderman Mulder’s call was prompted by his apprehension of two youths in the act of vandalising the bus shelter near Rosny College on Sunday night. “I’ve given the matter some thought”, Ald Mulder said “and current CSO tasks like painting out graffiti do not provide a pathway toward social re-engagement.” Instead, Ald Mulder suggests compulsory attendance at a pre-apprenticeship TAFE course. “If they don’t engage, it is no different to a CSO, but if they commit, they gain a pre-apprenticeship qualification and important employment and life skills.”
Do Better Do Less: The report of the Commission on English Prisons Today
Ladikos, Anastasios and Prinsloo, Johan and Naudé, Beaty. Magistrates' and Prosecutors' Sentencing Preferences Based on Crime Case Scenarios
As part of an empirical survey about restorative justice, magistrates and prosecutors were asked to indicate the sentences they would recommend/impose for eight crime case scenarios presented to them. It is acknowledged that information concerning the crime itself may not always be comprehensive enough and that, in some instances, more information regarding the offender's background would have been useful for sentencing purposes. In fact, a few magistrates and prosecutors pointed this out. Diversion includes community service, specific treatment programmes and correctional supervision while restorative mediation refers to family group conferencing and victim-offender mediation. Conditionally suspended cases involving diversion or restorative mediation will be indicated where it was an aspect of the recommended sentence. Cases where the respondents indicated that they were unable to recommend a sentence because they required a probation service report before sentence could be imposed or recommended, were was placed under "other". This article renders an overview of the respondents' conclusions. (Abstract courtesy of Acta Criminologica).
Hagemann, Otmar. Restorative justice in prison?
According to Ottmar Hagemann, programs that could be classified as forms of restorative justice are currently being implemented in prisons in various countries. In this vein, Belgium has recently introduced what are called restorative justice consultants. One works in every prison in Belgium. Yet, inquires Hagemann, is the concept of restorative justice compatible with imprisonment? Hagemann explores the question by discussing abolitionism (advocacy for the elimination of prisons in favor of alternative forms of conflict resolution), restorative justice and abolitionism, the scope of restorative justice in terms of what crimes are and can be addressed, empirical evidence with respect to an in-prison program focusing on offender empathy for victims, and links between restorative justice theory and actual practice in prison settings.
Anderson, Tracy and Morris, Allison and Maxwell, Gabrielle. Community panel adult pre-trial diversion Supplementary evaluation
New Zealand has been exploring new models of justice to respond to victims, reduce recidivism, and enhance community safety. These models have been variously described as focusing on restorative justice, indigenous justice, community justice, or diversion. Elements of all of these models can be seen in the Community Panel adult pre-trial diversion schemes that are the subject of this evaluation. In this paper, the authors summarize pilot Community Panel diversion schemes in New Zealand: their different settings and processes; the participants and their experiences; outcomes; and costs.
Stokes, Julie. Diversion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth From Juvenile Detention
This is a comprehensive overview of the diversion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth from the criminal justice system in Australia. In part 1, a literature review addresses issues for Indigenous Australians, the juvenile justice system, offending by Indigenous youth, drug use among Indigenous youth, the etiology of psychoactive substance use disorders and offending behavior, the etiology of substance use problems among Indigenous youth, diversion from the criminal justice system, bail and remand, sentencing Indigenous offenders, treatment of psychoactive substance use disorders (PSUD), PSUD treatment in the juvenile justice system, PSUD for Indigenous people, and interventions to reduce recidivism. Part 2 presents national data on Indigenous youth in juvenile detention centers, and part 3 summarizes programs, services, and diversion procedures for Indigenous youth in each Australian jurisdiction. Part 4, which addresses existing programs and key principles of diversion and treatment, covers the existing range of programs; youth conferencing; and police training in juvenile diversion initiatives, particularly early interventions. Part 5 presents six recommendations pertinent to improving diversion policies and programs for Indigenous Australian youth. Recommendations pertain to the development of a greater number and range of culturally appropriate diversion options that target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth; the design of future diversion and treatment services for Indigenous juveniles in accordance with specified principles; the enhancement of the knowledge of police and magistrates about diversion options for Indigenous juveniles; a revision of policies that exclude repeat juvenile offenders from diversion programs; the collection of identifying data for the monitoring of youth in the full range of diversion options; and broader social justice programs for improvements in PSUD interventions for Indigenous youth. Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service,
Van Ness, Daniel W. Restorative Justice in Prisons.
Increasingly, Corrections departments throughout the world are implementing restorative programmes in the prison context. This work raises several issues related to the appropriateness of restorative justice in prison and objectives to be met by such programmes. Daniel W. Van Ness, executive director of the Centre for Justice and Reconciliation at Prison Fellowship International presents this overview of the use of restorative justice in prison. This paper was originally presented at Symposium on Restorative Justice and Peace in Colombia, Cali,Colombia, 9-12 February 2005.
McAnoy, Kevin and Wallace-Capretta, Suzanne and Roonery, Jennifer and Bonta, James. An Outcome Evaluation of a Restorative Justice Alternative to Incarceration.
Restorative justice has become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional applications of criminal justice. The emphasis on victim needs and the personalizing of conflict resolution offers an alternative choice for those dissatisfied with the adversarial, impersonal, and retributive fovus of the present criminal justice system. Many evaluations of restorative justice programs, especially those with a diversion goal have rarely controlled for the possibility of net widening and the influence of offender risk on recidivism. This evaluation examined a prison diversion program that followed restorative justice principles. Using a matched comparison group and controlling for offender risk, the program demonstrated a diversion effect and a significant reduction in offender recidivism. The results are encouraging for jurisdictions experimenting with this new approach to justice and seeking a more integrated role for victims in criminal justice processing.

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