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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.

Daylen, Judith and Harvey, Wendy van Tongeren. Nurturing Dignity and Respect in the Criminal Justice System
While being victimized by crime is not desirable, Wendy van Tongeren Harvey and Judith Daylen ask whether a person could be a victim of crime in the Canadian criminal justice system and complete the experience altered in a positive way. What would this look like? What would it involve in terms of relationships, competencies, perspectives, behaviors, emotions, intelligence, and the human spirit? Certainly some people have been victimized by crime, have gone through the criminal justice system, and have been altered in positive ways. They have come out as “thriversâ€? not merely as “survivorsâ€? or “copers.â€? In this context, Harvey and Daylen seek to encourage a dialogue that celebrates thriving in the wake of being a crime victim, and that holds out that possibility for others who face the challenge of crime victimization. They do this by exploring the criminal justice perspective on crime victimization, the criminal justice system itself, reforms to deal with crime victims better, and psychological perspectives on victimization.
Porter, Abbey J. Restorative Conferences Reduce Trauma from Crime, Study Shows
The emotional and psychological impact of crime can last far beyond the incident itself, in some cases affecting victims’ lives for years. A groundbreaking study has shown, however, that restorative justice conferences can mitigate those effects and help victims heal and move forward more quickly. Dr. Caroline M. Angel Dr. Caroline M. Angel, a lecturer in criminology at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, studied the impact of restorative conferencing on post-traumatic stress symptoms in victims of burglary and robbery. Her findings were clear: Conferences reduce the psychologically traumatic effects of crime. (excerpt)
Daly, Kathleen. Entries and Endings: Victims’ Journeys with Justice
I explore a complex set of relationships between the initial distress caused by crime, what I term the real offence (a more precise set of categories that depict the offence), and victim recovery and lingering emotional concerns a year later. I identify three types of victim journeys: an easy journey, a change journey, and a difficult journey. I will draw from research on victims in a restorative justice process, but I suspect that this journey typology has wider applicability. (author's abstract)
Anonymous. 'Profound Impact on Inmates'
This article introduces the Sycamore Tree community-based restorative justice programme of Prison Fellowship of New Zealand, which will be started at the Waikeria and Auckland prisons. The programme is organized by Christians and begins with offenders who volunteer to participate in the sessions. It has four objectives--reconciliation, reparation, transformation, and a reduction in reoffending--and can lead to prisoners dealing with other surrounding issues. The celebration meal also affords prison management personnel an opportunity to involve families and victims in rehabilitation.
Seymour, Anne. Victims of Juvenile Offenders: An Important Component of the Juvenile Justice Equation
At the beginnings of the field of victim assistance in the early 1970s, little attention was paid to the creation and implementation of victims’ rights and the provision of quality victim services in the nation’s juvenile justice systems, claims Anne Seymour. In recent years this has begun to change with increasing attention being given to the plight of victims of juvenile offenders. Indeed, during the past decade important partnerships have emerged among juvenile justice, juvenile corrections, and victim assistance agencies and professionals. Seymour surveys all of this through a discussion of the uniqueness of victims of juvenile offenders, the needs of victims of juvenile offenders, and significant developments in the field.
Editor. The Victims Register Turns 10 Years Old
The Victims Register is not about making it harder for offenders, it is about helping victims of crime. They often need to gain a sense of control over their situation; understanding how the system works can be empowering. (excerpt)
Wergens, Anna. Restorative Justice, the crime-victim paradigm and the COE guidelines for a better implementation of the Recommendation ‘Mediation in Penal Matters'
The first part of the presentation commented on the role of crime victims in the course of mediation in penal matters from a Swedish perspective... The presentation aimed to a cautious but not negative outlook on mediation in penal matters with the objective that the victim should not become ‘the forgotten person’ in the mediation process... In the second part of the presentation, an effort was made to introduce the Council of Europe guidelines for a better implementation of the existing recommendation concerning mediation in penal matters... The diversity of the restorative justice programmes in Europe was decisive for the development of these guidelines by means of a structure into three separate sections dealing with awareness, accessibility and availability. The presentation outlined how the guidelines relate to the conference theme ‘Co-operation between the public, policy matters, practitioners and researchers and the role of various professional groups in raising awareness on mediation... The specific aspects related to victims in the guidelines were accounted for and analysed, in particular the section on quality which stresses the power imbalance between the victim and the offender following a crime and it recommends member states to be aware that the needs of the victim require special consideration before, during and after the mediation process. (excerpt)
Van Wormer, Katherine. Restorative Justice as Social Justice for Victims of Gendered Violence: A Standpoint Feminist Perspective
This article provides an overview of restorative justice as a process and examines its relevance to women who have been victimized by physical and sexual abuse. The starting point is the justice system with its roots in adversarial, offender-oriented practices of obtaining justice. The widespread dissatisfaction by battered women and rape victims and their advocates with the current system of mandatory law enforcement opens the door for consideration of alternative forms of dealing with domestic violence. Restorative justice strategies, as argued here, have several major advantages. Like social work, these strategies are solution-based rather than problem-based processes, give voice to marginalized people, and focus on healing and reconciliation. Moreover, restorative justice offers an avenue through which the profession of social work can re-establish its historic role in criminal justice. The four models most relevant to women's victimization are victim-offender conferencing, family group conferencing, healing circles, and community reparations. Each model is examined separately from a feminist standpoint. The discussion is informed by insights from the teachings of standpoint feminist theory and social work values, especially social justice. (author's abstract)
"In this article, I contend that victim impact statements move the juvenile court too far away from its original mission and ignore the child’s often diminished culpability in delinquent behavior. I also argue that victim impact statements delivered in the highly charged environment of the courtroom are unlikely to achieve the satisfaction and catharsis victims seek after crime. To better serve the needs of the victim and the offender, I propose that victim impact statements be excluded from the juvenile disposition hearing and incorporated into the child’s long-term treatment plan. Interactive victim awareness programs, such as victim-offender mediation and victim impact panels that take place after disposition, allow victims to express pain and fear to the offender, foster greater empathy and remorse from the child, and encourage forgiveness and reconciliation by the victim. Delaying victim impact statements until after the child’s disposition also preserves the child’s due process rights at sentencing and allows the court to focus on the child’s need for rehabilitation." (Excerpt from Author)
Dignan, James. Victim in Restorative Justice.
The chapter begins with consideration of why the term "restorative justice" has proven so difficult to define. The author proposes a different way of approaching the task that avoids some of the problems that have been encountered. The chapter then examines the limited extent to which victim-related concerns have been featured within the three main intellectual traditions that have helped to shape the restorative justice movement in recent years: victim-offender mediation, conferencing, and healing or sentencing circles. What restorative justice might potentially offer to victims is then assessed in the context of those theoretical developments that are more relevant from a victim perspective. The next section of the chapter discusses the varying role and prominence that is accorded victims within each of the main types of restorative justice practice likely to be encountered in contemporary criminal justice settings. This is followed by an assessment of the progress that has been made in evaluating restorative justice initiatives from a victim perspective, before summarizing some of the main empirical findings. The role of the victim in British restorative justice policymaking is examined in the chapter's final section, which also comments on some of the key problems of implementation that have impeded victims' participation in restorative justice initiatives. (Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service,
Janice Harris Lord. Spiritually Sensitive Victim Services
"Following is part one of a two-part article emphasizing the need for caregivers to approach their clients with a sensitivity not only to their emotional and social needs, but also to the concerns arising from diverse cultural backgrounds. The article asks caregivers to challenge themselves in exploring their own assumptions and predispositions. Part two of this article will appear in a future issue of CVR." (Editor's note)
Spies, G. M.. Restorative Justice: A Way to Support the Healing Process of a Child Exposed to Incest.
This article highlights the value of restorative justice in minimizing the effects of child sexual abuse and how to apply it to respect the specific needs of the survivor of sexual abuse. As sexual abuse affects the child on a short, as well as on a long term basis, professionals need to explore any possible means to minimize these effects. This article discusses the value of restorative justice in supporting the healing process of a child exposed to incest. Restorative justice has been defined as a philosophy and an approach to deal with the effects of crime, viewing crime as a violation of people and relationships. The purpose of restorative justice is to heal those relationships by identifying the needs, responsibilities and obligations with the victim and the offender, together, along with the State and community. After taking into account the effects of incest on the lives of survivors, the question asked is how restorative justice as an approach during the legal process can contribute to the healing of the survivor. Through the use of restorative justice, the following needs of the victim can be addressed: regaining self power and self acceptance, letting go of guilt feelings, establishing their innocence as children, regaining the right to make decisions, regaining trust in others, and establishing personal boundaries. Time does not cure the effects of sexual abuse on children but rather the way their healing process was facilitated. More research needs to be conducted regarding restorative justice as an approach to cases of sexual abuse. (Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service,
Parliament of New Zealand . Parole Act 2002.
Section 7: Guiding Principles When making decisions about, or in any way relating to, the release of an offender, one of the principles that must guide the Parole Board's decisions is that the rights of the victim are upheld, and victims' submissions and any restorative justice outcomes are given due weight (section 7(2)(d)). Section 35: Direction for detention on home detention The outcome of any restorative justice processes that may have occurred is one of the factors to be considered by the Parole Board when considering an application for home detention (section 35(2)(b)(v)). Section 36: Detention conditions With the approval of a probation officer, an offender on home detention may leave the residence in which he or she is detained to (section 36(3)(c)): attend a restorative justice conference or other process relating to the offender's offending, or carry out any undertaking arising from any restorative justice process. (excerpt)
Derksen, Wilma. Confronting the Horror: The Aftermath of Violence
Combining graphic honesty with compassion and hope, this book serves as a road map through the aftermath of violence by addressing both the personal and justice issues encountered after violent act. In an easy-to-read conversational style, liberally sprinkled with personal stories, Derksen has organized the Crime Victim Detour (the victim’s journey) into something understandable and readable. Written especially for victims of crime, their friends and family, and service providers. (publisher’s abstract).
Banks, Cyndi. Victims in the Village: Aspects of Restorative Justice in Papua New Guinea
In the villages of Vanimo West Coast, Papua New Guinea, restorative justice processes continue to adhere to traditional practices and beliefs. The article examines how modernization has influenced traditional restorative practices and in particular how the criminal justice system is perceived and used by indigenous peoples. It also identifies the kinds of acts considered injurious, traditional restorative justice practices, and modern attitudes and practices by victims seeking justice. Villages have maintained a private/public distinction in their disputes, keeping disputes between close kin private, and publicizing others. Traditionally, disputes made public would be taken to the Chief. Today, in some cases, the courts and the community government council are the chosen forums for publication. Sometimes a victim seeks only to shame the offender by making the dispute public, this being an end in itself. The article makes explicit the capacity of victims for adaptation and the continued resilience of custom in resolving grievances. Abstract courtesy of Natinal Criminal Justice Reference Service,
Umbreit, Mark S. The restorative justice and mediation collection: Executive summary.
Increasingly, restorative justice and mediation programs are being used to assist crime victims and hold offenders accountable. This issue of OVC Bulletin summarizes five major documents comprising The Restorative Justice and Mediation Collection.The five documents consist of the following: (1) Guidelines for Victim-Sensitive Victim-Offender Mediation: Restorative Justice Through Dialogue; (2) National Survey of Victim-Offender Mediation Programs in the United States; (3) Directory of Victim-Offender Mediation Programs in the United States; (4) Family Group Conferencing: Implications for Crime Victims; and (5) Multicultural Implications of Restorative Justice: Potential Pitfalls and Dangers. Umbreit introduces the collection, presents an overview of victim-offender mediation, and sketches each document in the collection.
Herman, Susan. Viewing restorative justice through victims’ eyes
Despite improvements in the criminal justice system in addressing the needs and rights of victims, crime victims often feel further unsatisfied, alienated, and mistreated by the system. In theory, restorative justice promises to remedy this situation. Yet Herman asserts that this is not the case. She contends that restorative justice programs leave out most victims, and that restorative justice does not address many critical needs of victims. Hence, she calls for a restorative justice that would be truly victim-oriented.
Cook, Bree and Grant, Anna and David, Fiona. Victims’ needs, victims’ rights: Policies and programs for victims of crime in Australia
In this document the authors examine crime victimization in Australia. At the beginning of the report, they summarize their research methodology. Following that, they organize and present the research findings in these major categories (corresponding to chapters): crime victimization in Australia; the impact of crime on victims; responses to victims of crime; the development of victims services in Australia; and a descriptive overview of those services in the states of Australia. The authors then recommend directions for policies in Australia with respect to victims’ needs and rights. Additional material at the end of the report includes the following: list of participants in the research; state legislation relating to victims of crime; and the United Nations’ Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power. A number of tables and figures in the text supplement the report with statistical information on crimes and crime victims in Australia.
Phillips, Charles. Circle sentencing: A victim centered process
Phillips outlines the traditional criminal justice response to crime: the crime is against the state, not the victim; victim and offender are kept separate; to a large extent the victim’s needs and interests are ignored; if the accused is found guilty, prison is often the sanction. According to Phillips, restorative justice seeks an alternative in victim-centered justice. Circle sentencing is a restorative justice practice involving those affected by crime: victims; offenders; and community members. Phillips describes key elements of circle sentencing in Travis County (Austin), Texas: participants; eligibility and referring agencies; screening panel; screening process; and the circle-sentencing process itself.
Lavery, Carol and Achilles, Mary. Apologies: Balancing the Needs of Victims and Offenders
Lavery and Achilles identify important issues and questions that must be addressed when apologies by offenders to their victims is considered as part of a restorative justice endeavor. The victim must be in control - fully informed of the offenders motives and expectations, and allowed to decide when and if to accept an apology - in order for the apology to have a truly rehabilitative effect.

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