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Victim Care

Restorative justice seeks to meet the needs of both victims and offenders. These articles discuss practice issues and working with victims.

Bender, Valerie R. Victim/Community Awarness: An Orientation for Juveniles
The curriculum is designed for a group with a maximum of 15 offenders, and the 3 sessions of the curriculum encompass 3 to 4 hours. The first session is an introductory session that involves welcoming participants and group introduction, the administering of a pretest, the presentation of a group contract for behavior within the group, and an overview of balanced and restorative justice. The second session focuses on the impact of crime. In this session, group participants engage in role-playing as a crime victim or someone in the community who must deal with the aftermath of a crime described by the group facilitator. Each group member is assigned a role to play that involves thought about the kinds of feelings the character might have. The third session builds upon the second session by having each group member describe in detail the offense he/she committed, followed by a description of how his/her offense affected the victim and community. Group members may ask questions and provide feedback regarding the impact of each member's offense. Part of this session is having group members compose an apology letter to their victims and to the community. Materials for each session are provided, along with guidance for the facilitator. A section on information and resources includes a victim/community awareness completion report, a victim impact statement, guidelines for assessing offender accountability, suggested readings, and descriptions of victim-awareness video clips. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,
Herman, Susan and Webster, Michelle. Parallel Justice: A New Framework for Providing Justice for Crime Victims
Many victims of crime feel ignored, excluded, and profoundly disrespected by the criminal justice system. Opportunities to participate in the criminal justice process are narrowly defined and few. Victims’ emotional, physical, and financial needs are rarely fully addressed, if they are addressed at all. We know that crime and victimization tear at the fabric of community life and can fuel conditions that create even more crime. From this perspective, helping victims repair the harm caused by crime is an important investment with wide-ranging benefits for victims as well as for families, communities, and society. Traditionally, however, access to services and resources to help repair the harm of crime has not been viewed as a critical element of achieving justice for victims. Rather, justice for victims has commonly been viewed as meaningful participation in the criminal justice system and conviction of the offender. While these are important components of justice for victims, they present an incomplete vision of justice. Most victims never have a chance to participate in the criminal justice process because their offenders are never arrested or prosecuted. Furthermore, even if crime victims had every opportunity to participate and be heard in the criminal justice system, many would inevitably remain profoundly disappointed because the clear focus of the criminal justice system is on the offender and not the victim. Parallel Justice, an initiative being implemented in three states by the National Crime Victim Center, elevates the goal of helping victims rebuild their lives to fundamental component of justice. Parallel Justice requires us to decouple the pursuit of justice for victims from the administration of justice for offenders. (excerpt)
Victim Support. Policy on Restorative Justice In Criminal Justice
Although restorative justice has implications for victims, offenders and communities, this position statement is confined to its effects upon victims. Victim Support recognises that restorative justice has benefits for those victims who want it. Many victims have a psychological need for information after a crime that will help them to make sense of their experience, and which only the offender can supply. Victim Support believes that a restorative justice process can help provide this information which in turn can help the victim to recover from the crime and alleviate their fear of future crime. Some victims value the opportunity to tell the offender how the crime affected them. Reparation to the victim can also benefit them. (excerpt)
Friday, Paul C and et al. United Nations Overview of Restorative Justice: Working group of Resource Committee No. 1, Victims, Report on restorative justice issues
In September, 1998 the Executive Committee of ISPAC established a working group of Resource Committee No. 1, Victims, and requested a draft report on Restorative Justice Issues. This report is a brief synopsis of the literature and materials that have come to the attention of the Committee. The materials are extensive and there are a significant number of individual scholars and practitioners, groups and organizations devoted to the advancement of Restorative Justice Principles. The entire content of this report is based on the works and materials supplied by these individuals and groups and is used freely. (excerpt)
Workman, Kim. About The Sycamore Tree: A Community Managed Restorative Justice Programme
Around four years ago, Prison Fellowship International (PFI) decided to develop a programme that would bring small groups of victim volunteers into prisons to meet with small groups of prisoners to talk about their experiences with crime. The victims and offenders are not related (that is, the victims are not the particular victims of those offenders), and studies in North America and Europe had suggested that this kind of meeting are useful for both victims and offenders. PFI convened an international design team to explore how such a program might be constructed and to oversee development of the curriculum. This was a task the team took seriously, since the issues and group dynamics generated in these meetings could be quite powerful. The project, known as the Sycamore Tree Project, was launched in a men's prison in Houston, Texas. The second programme was in Arohata Women's Prison, New Zealand. A third ran in a men's prison in England. PFI evaluated the pilot programme and a team has re-written the "Sycamore Tree" manual. (excerpt)
Aertsen, Ivo. La médiation sociale en Belgique et les débats sur la justice restaurative en Europe (ou, Le développement d’une justice réparatrice orientée vers la victime: la problématique et l’expérience belge)
Une synthèse de la session de formation continue "La justice en perspectives", organisée par l'Ecole nationale de la magistrature et dirigée par Jean-Paul Jean, directeur de la Mission de recherche Droit et Justice en France.
Salas, Denis. Le souci des victimes et la recomposition de la justice
Une synthèse de la session de formation continue "La justice en perspectives", organisée par l'Ecole nationale de la magistrature et dirigée par Jean-Paul Jean, directeur de la Mission de recherche Droit et Justice en France.
Victim Support. A Commitment to Victims' Rights
This discussion paper describes strategic policy issues for Victims of Crime in New Zealand, and defines Victim Support’s preferred role in future policy development. It also discusses the major operational issues currently faced by Victim Support and recommendations for addressing these concerns. Author's abstract.
Justice Options for Women. Restorative Justice and Women Who Are Victims of Violence: Justice Options for Women - Phase Two. Summary Report
Justice Options for Women Project started in1999 when some community members and organizations were concerned that restorative justice approaches would be used in cases where women had been victims of violence without enough consideration of the needs of women and consultation with the community. The Steering Committee for the project said at that time - we need to work on ensuring justice options for women and children before focussing specifically on restorative justice. While restorative justice does need to be addressed, both from the concern that restorative justice risks making woman abuse “privateâ€? and for the potential to support women who are victims of violence, restorative justice options should not detract from the continuing efforts needed in the justice system. (excerpt)
Estes, Jerry N. The Parable of the Crime Victim
This article uses the personal story of an individual responding to the needs of a crime victim to discuss the importance of addressing the needs of victims.
Gal, Tali. Child-Victims and Restorative Justice: The Appeal, the Risks
The common approach toward children who have been victimised by criminal acts is a paternalistic one. Legal systems have been seeking ways to limit child-victims' participation in the criminal justice proceedings against their offenders, to minimized the risk of further trauma of these children. Child protection services, when involved, focus on healing the child separately from the rehabilitation/incarceration of the offender. This paternalistic approach, despite its good intentions, is not in line with internationally accepted children's rights concepts. In this session I will describe shortly the general principles related to children's rights as provided in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and in particular the participation principle - the right of every child to take part in any decision-making process affecting his or her life. While the participation right is being gradually implemented in many fields of children's lives, hardly any participation exists with regard to the criminal justice process that follows an offence against children. Restorative justice, on the other hand, puts victims, together with offenders and communities, at the centre, and encourages active participation in the process. Until today, however, very little is known about the special needs and rights of child-victims participating in such processes. No wonder, then, that there are very few programs world wide that integrate child-victims on a regular basis, especially not in severe cases such as family violence and sexual offences. I will discuss the importance of child-participation in restorative justice processes from both children's rights and victims' needs perspectives. Abstract courtesy of the Centre for Justice and Peace Development, Massey University,
Henderson, Ruth Helen. The Mystery of Forgiveness: Reflections and Stories about Forgiving in the Aftermath of Trauma
This study explores the fundamental issues of forgiving in the wake of profound victimization. While psychological traumatization is a debilitating experience, the injury itself offers opportunities that provide entry ways to new life. Forgiveness is envisioned as a spiritual process that offers broader perspective and deeper engagement with the world. The study takes the form of a reflective essay that incorporates the elements of traditional scholarship. It consists of three parts: Part I concerns forgiveness definitions and issues. This includes a discussion of who forgiveness is for and possible essential elements in forgiving. Empathy and humility are explored in this context. Forgiveness is viewed as being primarily for the forgiver and is a process that requires both strength and courage. The final part of this section outlines the therapeutic course traumatized people may first go through to become strong enough to begin forgiving. Part II focuses on forgiveness processes—how people forgive. Here, the forgiveness models of research psychologists are critiqued. This is followed by the author’s perspective on how a person might forgive. Drawing upon the work of mythologist Joseph Campbell, the forgiveness process is presented as a fictional account of a forgiver-hero’s death and resurrection journey. The healing power of personal narrative is recognized—how the act of telling one’s story offers power and freedom. Part III is devoted to stories of people who have dealt with the issue of forgiveness. Some of the voices included are of people who have chosen not to forgive, thus suggesting the limitations of forgiving. These are followed by others whose profound experiences of forgiveness have brought them peace. Here, a man who forgave the murderer of his daughter explains how active compassion for the offender transformed his life. The Epilogue discusses the larger implications of the discoveries concerning forgiveness. Author's abstract.
Waller, Irvin. Crime Victims: Doing Justice to their Support and Protection
Policies to reduce crime - even based on what is effective - will never totally eliminate crime and so it will always be necessary to assist victims to recover from their losses, foster closure to their trauma, and ensure respect for their interests by law enforcement and criminal justice professionals. Justice services must operate even for the victim. Support, reparation and information must be available to victims. Increasingly, specialised commissions and even legislators recognise what must be done, but much more is needed to go from this rhetoric to real action. Most national constitutions guarantee basic human rights for suspects and convicted offenders. Citizens suspected of offending cannot be deprived of their liberty by the government without being advised and defended by a lawyer in front of an independent court. Yet obvious rights for a person victimized by crime are not guaranteed such as the right to: -- reasonable protection from criminal acts; --redress for pain, loss and injury inflicted by crime --dignity, respect and a fair deal from police, courts and correctional authorities (CCSD, 1981) (excerpt)
Restorative Justice Consortium.. Response to- `Compensation and Support for Victims of Crime` March 2004
The Restorative Justice Consortium (RJC) welcomes the governments wish to support and meet the needs of victims of crime. We naturally welcome the commitment to put the victim at the heart of the criminal justice system. We believe that the best way to encourage and enable the offender to make reparation is to avoid the use of imprisonment wherever possible, since it makes it much more difficult for offenders to either earn money to pay compensation or to undertake reparative work. We also welcome the recognition that more money needs to be available to provide victims services and that those voluntary agencies that provide them should have more secure funding. It is hoped that these will not be cancelled out by an excessive use of targets and bureaucracy whilst ensuring quality control. (excerpt)
Kittayarak, Kittipong. A Brief Outline of the Current Situation on the Protection of Victims of Crime in Thailand
Early in history, criminal law was essentially law for victims. Victims of crime were the center of the administration of criminal justice. Most criminal sanctions aimed at providing redress to the victims, typically in the forms of compensation and restitution. The concept of crime as a "private wrong" has been replaced by the emergence of the notion that crime is an act against the well being of the state and thus needs "public prosecution". The importance of the role of the victim of crime was limited to that of a "witness". Over the past few centuries, the defendant and the State evolved as the two parties with legal standing in criminal proceedings. The victims were virtually forgotten and became, in the words of Bard, “the party without institutionalized voice in the legal process." The changing paradigm during that period was based on the following premises: 1. A crime is primarily an offense against the government rather than a private wrong. 2. The government, because it acts for the good of the citizenry, cannot be held accountable for its mistakes or negligence in the administration of criminal justice. 3. Specially trained professional officers are better at controlling crime and seeing that justice is accomplished than the private citizens or victims of the offenses. 4. Victims are useful to the system as information sources and witnesses; their interests are not important to the system and could interfere with the efficient administration of justice. 5. Because of the great power of the state and the potential for abuse, persons accused or suspected of committing a crime need to be protected with an array of procedural rights and privileges. This “new paradigm‿ which has remained the mainstream thinking of the criminal justice systems around the world for a long time until the older ideas have been rekindled only recently by the movement for the protection of crime victims. (excerpt)
Sarei, Noel. Country Report: Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea has legislation policies, which are directed at the protection of victims of crime. The Papua New Guinea Constitution speaks of the Basic Rights of all people (Division 3. Basic Rights. Sections 32-56) but not specifically on the ‘victims of crimes’. The Papua New Guinea Department of Attorney General in its 2000 Policy on Community Corrections further made a commitment to protect the victims of crime in Papua New Guinea. The ten year plan – The National Law and Justice Policy and Plan of Action 2001-2010 entitled Towards Restorative Justice pursues very strongly the development of a Victim Support Policy. The Policy states: “Developing a Victim Support Policy promotes another goal of the law and Justice Policy. That goal is to bring the victims of crime and conflict back into the centre of the law and justice process. All too often, victims are either ignored or sidelined under the current system. A vital step towards restoring confidence and genuine fairness in law and justice processes is to recognise the injury suffered by victims and to support when appropriate. The aim of this policy is to evaluate and strengthen the existing support structures such as the women’s refuges; Police Sexual Offences Section; the parole and probation; Life Line, social workers at the hospitals; the churches; criminal compensation; the courts; and the non-government organizations who are taking the lead to provide assistance to the victims of crime. (excerpt)
Editor. Sycamore Tree programme: ‘a journey for them all’
A community-based restorative justice programme that involves groups of crime victims meeting with groups of offenders is to be introduced to prisons in Palmerston North, Wanganui and Invercargill over the next six months. The Sycamore Tree programme, run by the Prison Fellowship of New Zealand, has been operating successfully at Hawke's Bay Prison for the last three years.'We've had glowing feedback from our participants,' says Jackie Katounas, who has been facilitating the programme in Hastings. The Department of Corrections is funding an extension of the programme into Manawatu Prison from August, Wanganui Prison from September, and Invercargill Prison from November. The voluntary programme involves groups of six inmates and six victims of unrelated crimes coming together for eight two-hour sessions. (excerpt)
Fichtenberg, Marjean. What is Justice?
Restorative justice is, of course, about justice. While people often think victims of crime want vengeance, most victims say they just want justice to be done. The question then is what is justice. More particularly, the question is how a victim of crime defines justice. Marjean Fichtenberg observes that justice is something that happens to the offender in our current criminal justice system. What about the victim in this system? Is the criminal justice system’s pursuit of “justiceâ€? a satisfactory approach to justice for the victim? In Fichtenberg’s assessment, the answer is negative. Restorative justice theory, in contrast, offers a set of values conducive to healing for the victim, offender, and society. In this approach, the victim’s needs are taken seriously and placed at the center of the process of responding to the crime. In actual terms, not all restorative justice processes adequately include and assist victims of crime. Yet truly restorative responses do support and aid victims in meaningful and practical ways. This is justice from a victim’s perspective.
Oxfordshire Youth Offending Team. Oxfordshire Youth Offending Team Policy on Work with Victims
The Oxfordshire Youth Offending Team (United Kingdom) was established in the late 1990s to put victims at the center of the criminal justice process. The approach in contacting and supporting victims of youth crime is to work with victims sensitively, taking account of their needs, rights, and wishes. This paper spells out in detail the policies on its work with victims. These stated policies cover the following: Youth Offending Team strategy; victims awareness; reparation and mediation; guidelines for practice; the youth court; interagency implications; and monitoring and evaluation.
Church Council on Justice and Corrections. Current Victim Initiatives for The Church Council
The Church Council on Justice and Corrections (CCJC) is a Canadian coalition of faith-based individuals and churches advocating for a more humane way to practice criminal justice. The CCJC has undertaken a number of initiatives that give prominence to victim-related issues. This paper reports on six of those initiatives: a report on the Collaborative Justice Project at a victims of crime conference in Ontario; production of reflection sheets on restorative justice; participation in a Living Justice conference on God’s justice in relation to the question of healing or retribution; the Collaborative Justice Project operating out of the Ottawa courthouse; a focus on victims’ stories at a CCJC annual meeting; and identification of benchmarks for satisfying justice.

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