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Conferencing

Articles discussing restorative conferencing models.

Restorative Justice offers an alternative to traditional criminal process
from the article by Danny Bishop on Collegian Central: Everyone makes mistakes, and the City of Fort Collins and Colorado State University have Restorative Justice programs which allow legal mistakes to be handled through conferencing instead of through the courts. Perrie McMillin, program coordinator for Restorative Justice in Fort Collins, said the program allows individuals to take part in a mediated conversation between the person who caused the harm and those who were affected. The conversation addresses the harm that was caused and how to remedy it.
Trench democracy in criminal justice: An interview with Lauren Abramson
from the article by Albert W. Dzur on Boston Review: ...Lauren Abramson: We define “community” as the community of people who have been affected by and involved in the conflict or the crime. Everybody who’s involved in or affected by the situation, and their respective supporters, is included. We make the circle as wide as possible. Thus, conferences usually include between ten and forty people. The Streeper Street neighborhood conflict had been going on for two years and forty-four people attended. Conferences are always about engaging the entire community of people affected by whatever’s going on and giving them the power to try to fix it.
Real-life stories: Property damage
Central Virginia Restorative Justice provides the following vignette of restorative conference in a property damage case as one way of explaining restorative justice. A young teenager sits at a round table in our office alongside his mother, his little brother, and Restorative Justice staff members. The room is quiet as he stares intently into the light grey surface of the table, searching for an explanation for why he and some friends had spent an evening throwing large rocks at cars from a hiding spot beside a busy road. This young man isn’t deliberating over his words because he hopes to charm the staff with the answer he thinks they want to hear, and he certainly isn’t putting such energy into a bored shrug and an “I dunno.”
Releasing control
by Lynette Parker As a facilitator, I occasionally face situations that give me pause. Do I really want to facilitate this case? Am I competent to facilitate such a case? There are times I walk into the situation with real concerns and doubts, but simply have to trust the process.
Review: Restorative justice in practice: Evaluating what works for victims and offenders.
by Eric Assur Three British criminology researchers and educators, affiliated with the University of Sheffield, have offered a very rich book on the use of victim-offender mediation programs (what they call schemes) in adult criminal justice venues in England. Most early Restorative Justice (RJ) writing has focused on juvenile justice programs, generally with a concentration on diversionary approaches for first time offenders. The Shapland, Robinson and Sorsby book looks exclusively and intensely at three ‘schemes’ and several hundred ‘cases’ involving adults. The criminal justice programs they studied were funded by the British Ministry of Justice – Home Office between 2001 and 2008. They worked with adults at arrest, while going through the courts and even with some while imprisoned. In a nutshell, this is a thought provoking book that has few significant weak points. This is not a primer on Restorative Justice. It assumes that readers are at least moderately informed about RJ. It belongs in the hands of North American justice administrators. While not designed as a textbook (no end of chapter discussion questions), it concludes with end notes and references that make it a useful reference for anyone seeking to look further into transformative justice and RJ, especially as found in the United Kingdom and Australia.
Restorative practices in Hungary: An ex-prisoner is reintegrated into the community
from the article by Vidia Negrea: As the representative of Community Service Foundation of Hungary, the Hungarian affiliate of the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), I participated in a group session of the Hungarian Crime Prevention and Prison Mission Foundation in summer 2009 (Sycamore Tree Project — www.pfi.org/cjr/stp/introduction — or Zacchaeus Program in Hungary). There I met the governor of Balassagyarmat prison, where inmates were working in groups on issues related to their crimes and exploring ways to repair relationships they had damaged. Some inmates began accepting responsibility for what they had done and were motivated to make things right and earn forgiveness of victims and their families. Prisoners made symbolic reparation in the form of community service within the prison, but there was still a lot to do to create opportunities for offenders to make contact with victims and shed the stigma of their offense by means of direct reparation. Also, prison management believed it important to support processes, acceptable to victimized families and communities, to help prisoners regain control of their lives and prevent reoffending.
Shawn Verhey on The Salvation Army and restorative justice
This is great news. I run several RJ interventions at HMP Thorn Cross where I serve as the co-ordinating chaplain & I am very passionate [...]
The Salvation Army and restorative justice
from the article in The Dignity Project: “I will never forget my first brush with injustice” says Matt Delaney. “I was so hurt. I wanted pay back. I wanted to retaliate, to return the favour that I didn’t ask for. I did fight back. Strange though, after I unleashed my vengeance, all I felt was empty and alone. What was wrong with me? Where was the justice I was looking for? Why didn’t I feel justified?
Conferencing
Christa, Thanks for your thoughts. I agree with the point about team work. As facilitators, we have to permit the participants the opportunity to decide [...]
Conferencing Needs Team & PR Work
After several days of thinking about the idea of ‘no script’, I’d like to put out some thoughts about what restorative justice advocates can overstep [...]
facilitating the conferences
I agree that asking the questions is almost an art form. The facilitator has to be able to use creativity to guide the process between [...]
No script for the journey
by Lynette Parker I recently started reading The spirit and art of conflict transformation: Creating a culture of justpeace by Thomas Porter. Early in the book he says, “The work of conflict transformation is best described as the art of improvisation. Human interaction cannot be programmed, and there is no script for this journey.” Mentally, I said, “You’ve got that right.”
We can write the stories of peace with our lives
from the Fambul Tok website: Fambul Tok (Krio for “Family Talk”) emerged in Sierra Leone as a face-to-face community-owned program bringing together perpetrators and victims of the violence in Sierra Leone’s eleven-year civil war through ceremonies rooted in the local traditions of war-torn villages. It provides Sierra Leonean citizens with an opportunity to come to terms with what happened during the war, to talk, to heal, and to chart a new path forward, together. Fambul Tok is built upon Sierra Leone’s “family talk” tradition of discussing and resolving issues within the security of a family circle. The program works at the village level to help communities organize ceremonies that include truth-telling bonfires and traditional cleansing ceremonies—practices that many communities have not employed since before the war. Through drawing on age-old traditions of confession, apology and forgiveness, Fambul Tok has revived Sierra Leoneans’ rightful pride in their culture.
Restorative Justice Dialogue: An essential guide for research and practice
Restorative Justice Dialogue: An essential guide for research and practice. Mark Umbreit and Marilyn Peterson Armour (2010). New York: Springer Publishing Co. 339 pages.
Going Off Script: What is appropriate for a facilitator to say?
The conversation did cause me to re-examine my role and ask what is appropriate for a facilitator to say in a pre-conference setting.
Reflections on the restorative conference facilitator’s script
In mathematics and science, the term elegant is used to describe a formula or explanation that is both simple and comprehensive. Elegant ideas use evidence to braid together many of the messy strings dangling from a problem. They reveal core mechanisms and are easily related between individuals. Though it inhabits a world seemingly separate from the rigid logic of science and math, restorative conferencing is extremely elegant. The organization of conferencing approaches emotionally chaotic situations and provides structured opportunities to create solutions.
What are we looking for?
“Did you see remorse?” “What are we looking for?” “Why didn’t you ask about previous offending?” For the last four years, I’ve volunteered as a restorative conferencing facilitator with a local community organisation. As a part of that work, I now ‘mentor’ new facilitators. Inevitably, I get questions like the ones listed above. It’s always interesting to see the focus of new volunteers as they go through pre-conferences.
Lynette Parker: Listening to stories
“You don’t know what it means to have a member of the community listen to my story before making his decision.” One young man summed up his experience in a restorative conference with a community representative. Convicted of armed robbery, he had already served two years in prison and returned to his family when the conference took place. His statement reminded me of how powerful a restorative process can be.
Mediation and conferencing in child protection disputes: special issue of Family Court Review
In 1997, Family Court Review published the first special volume focused on child welfare mediation. At the time it was a relatively new field gaining ground in a number of states and provinces. Since then mediation and other alternatives to traditional and adversarial child welfare proceedings have been emerging and evolving across the United States, Canada, and the world. In this follow-up to the first special volume, the articles trace the history of the development of mediation and family group decision-making programs in the child welfare arena.
Bates, Brian. A diverse approach to juvenile offending in the Northern Territory
Brian Bates, Commissioner of Police in the Northern Territory, presents a Juvenile Pre-Court Diversion Scheme being used in that territory as an alternative approach to juvenile offending. Specifically, it is an alternative to an adversarial system in response to juvenile offending. This alternative scheme provides a range of interventions to divert juveniles from the criminal justice system. The paper sketches the background to this approach, describes each of the diversionary interventions, and reports on results from the first nine months of the program’s operations.

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