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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.

Letting victims define justice
from the article by Steve Sullivan for Restorative Justice Week 2011: ....There is a growing myth that for victims, justice requires tougher penalties. If only it was that simple. There is no evidence that punishment is as important to the majority of victims as some would have us believe. When asked in one study why they reported the crime, sexual assault victims listed punishment of the offender very low on their list of priorities.
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 — — 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.
Victim offender dialogue
from the article on JUST Alternatives: For offenders, victim-centered VOD in crimes of severe violence begins with their acknowledging complete and personal responsibility for what they have done. This means being willing to comprehend the impacts of their actions and behaviors, to face and feel a personal sense of accountability for them, and to feel remorse for the full effects of those actions upon the victims/survivors. It means having a truer understanding of the depth of the pain and grief and suffering they have caused. Victim-centered VOD for offenders is not merely about apology, especially for what can never be restored or made whole again. There are many victims/survivors who do not even want an apology if it is uninformed by the survivor’s experience. They do not want the offenders in their cases to be allowed the “easy grace” of apology. They alone can tell offenders exactly how what happened has affected them, and they alone are the ones who need and deserve to be in control of when – and whether – to receive an apology.
Bill Pelke's journey after violent crime
Bill, thank you so much for your words. For many who read them I am sure they are like balm to the soul. Over at [...]
Listening to crime victims:
Lisa, Thank you for your work on the 3rd Annual Restorative Justice Conference panel "Listening to Crime Victims: Their Journeys Toward Healing" that was sponsored [...]
Restorative Justice
Thanks for the great talk. Any info I could use in the juvenile justice class I teach to college students in criminal justice? Do you [...]
NPR: Victims confront offenders, face to face
from Laura Sullivan's interview with Sujatha Baliga on Talk of the Nation: BALIGA: Yes. And I said there's no chance. You know, this is not a case for restorative justice. The system is not amenable, particularly in your state. And I can't tell too many details, because we're still finishing things up with that case right now. It's not quite a done deal yet. But we're close. And the mother of this young man was so persistent and told me that she had actually been meeting with the girl's parents. She and her husband were meeting with the girl's parents, and that the girl's parents actually were the one interested in restorative justice. And she said, Can I give them your information? I said I'd be happy to talk to them and tell you the same thing I'm telling you, which is that this is not happening. (SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
healing & restorative justice for victims
Jennifer, I appreciate your comments. For those reading this blog you might remember that I have written a blog article or two on Jennifer Bishop [...]
The Power of RJ dialogues in severe violence cases
As Lisa stated in her summary of the Round Table at the RJ conference in North Carolina, victims voices can be powerful advocates for the [...]
Is Healing the Right Word?
Congrats to all involved in this very meaningful conversation and opportunity, and thanks to Lisa for telling us all about it. As always, I love [...]
Russ Turner's story--victims choose to meet their offenders
I was pleased to see Russ Turner's post here. Again, victims of violent crime are seeking ways to have a dialogue with their offenders. It [...]
Meeting face to face
I echo the thoughts above. I met with the young man serving 17 Years to Life for the death of my oldest son Jeremy. Our [...]
After the crime: the power of restorative justice. Dialogues between victims and violent offenders
by Martin Wright Violence, rape, murder and other abusive crimes: not usually pleasant subjects to read about, yet Susan Miller's book left this reader with a positive feeling. This is largely due to Miller herself, who presents the information in a straightforward, sympathetic but non-judgemental way; to Kim Book, who started the organization Victims' Voices Heard after her daughter was murdered; and to the participants themselves. Not all victims felt able to forgive, and this should not be a criterion for 'success'; but they followed the Amish precept: don't balance hurt with hate. Not all offenders accepted full responsibility. Miller divides restorative justice into diversion, taking the place of the criminal justice process for relatively minor cases, and 'therapeutic' RJ, where the offender is already in custody or has served a prison term. These cases are all in the latter category.
Excellent summary
Thank you for the powerful summary of your experience working with these four victims. As you so elegantly put it, we need to shine a [...]
Excellent reminder of the power of victims' voices for RJ
Lisa - this is an EXCELLENT write-up about the power of victims' voices and a great reminder of the importance of providing forums for their [...]
Listening to crime victims: North Carolina restorative justice conference
by Lisa Rea When crime victims speak about the effect violent crime has had on their lives you have to listen. On June 9th I moderated a crime victims roundtable during the 3rd Annual Restorative Justice Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina coordinated this year by Campbell University Law School. The roundtable called "Listening to Crime Victims: Their Journeys Toward Healing" was sponsored by the Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing. The four victims of violence who told their stories were Bill Pelke, chair, Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing (Alaska), Stephen Watt, Stephen Watt Ministries (Wyoming) , Bess Klassen-Landis, musician and teacher (Vermont), and Kim Book, executive director, Victims Voices Heard (Delaware). No matter how many crime victims panels I have moderated the stories are always riveting and often what I hear the victims say is new even when I am familiar with the stories. I learn something new as the victims move along in their lives---their own personal journeys.
Is restorative justice suited for gender-based violence?
from Sylvia Clute's article on Genuine Justice: Feminists have long decried the deficiencies in the traditional criminal law system when it comes to gender-based violence. The criminal law system fails victims, offenders and the community; there are no winners. Most cases are never reported, and the reported cases have a high attrition rate. Few cases are actually prosecuted. According to Melanie Randall, a law professor with expertise in legal remedies for gender violence, the needs of the victim are diametrically opposed to the needs of the criminal law system. That system is driven by complex rules; it challenges the victim’s credibility; she has no control; she must tell the state’s story instead of a coherent narrative around what happened to her. There is no protection against recall, and there is no safe face to face confrontation.
I just hugged the man who murdered my son
told by Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel on National Public Radio's StoryCorps: While most StoryCorps interviews are between family and friends, this conversation comes from two people who easily could have been enemies. In 1993, Oshea Israel was a teenage gang member in Minneapolis, Minnesota. One night at a party Oshea got into a fight, which ended when he shot and killed another boy. Now 34, Oshea has finished serving his prison sentence for second-degree murder.
Victim's daughter meets IRA bomber: An interview with Jo Berry
by Lisa Rea On October 12, 1984 an IRA bomb planted by Patrick Magee demolished Brighton’s Grand Hotel in Brighton killing 5 people including Sir Anthony Berry, MP for Southgate and a member of the Thatcher government. The bomb hit on the last day of the conservative party conference held at the hotel. The IRA bomber Magee was sentenced to 35 years in prison. He was released after 14 years under the negotiated Good Friday agreement. The following is an interview Lisa Rea conducted with Jo Berry, daughter of Sir Anthony Berry. She did this interview from her home in Macclesfield UK. Jo Berry chose to meet with Pat Magee in November 2000. Today the two work together on many initiatives including addressing peace conferences, giving workshops in prisons, and speaking at universities. Q. How did the meetings happen? What was the process? Were you, and Pat, adequately prepared to meet? Walk us through what happened.
I never thought a raped victim would do this
I have seen how restorative justice works for in juvenile offences or other crimes. But this is the first time i read a raped victim [...]

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