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Articles from RJ Online

These short articles featuring developments within North America and the Caribbean first appeared in the monthly edition of Restorative Justice Online.

A Healing Approach to Elder Abuse
The Restorative Justice Approaches to Elder Abuse Project is a collaborative of seven community agencies in the Waterloo region of Ontario. In 2000, the Project began a three year effort to design, implement and evaluate a restorative process to be used in cases of elder abuse. Arlene Groh, the project coordinator, describes the work of the Restorative Justice Approaches to Elder Abuse Project in this article.
Breaking the Cycle of Violence in Jamaica
Rising rates of violent crime in Jamaica have led to increasing instability and societal polarization. In August 2001, the National Committee on Crime and Violence was created to study the problem of crime and its root causes and to recommend strategies for breaking the cycle of violence. The Committee recommended breaking down political tribalism, reestablishing legitimate community leadership in place of patronage of criminal groups, and improving relations between the police and the community.
Bridges to Life: A Promising In-Prison Restorative Justice Intervention
Bridges to Life is an in-prison restorative justice programme that facilitates meetings between offenders and unrelated victims. This article is drawn from a paper by Marilyn Armour, assistant professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin. The complete article is attached.
Community Justice Centre of Comox Valley.
The Community Justice Centre of the Comox Valley Society in British Colombia, Canada has been providing restorative services since 1998. Edwarde O’Donnel and Karen Rushton provide an overview of the programme and of an in-house evaluation of participant satisfaction.
Creating Alternatives for Young Offenders in Toronto
An innovative diversion programme offers young offenders in the Greater Toronto area an opportunity to clear their records and contribute to the community. Called PACT (for participation, acknowledgement, commitment, and transformation), it partners with youth courts to provide a restorative justice and community service alternative in sentencing young offenders.
Creating Guidelines for Restorative Justice
In 2002, the United Nations Economic and Social Council endorsed Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters. In paragraph 12, the Basic Principles urge governments to create guidelines and standards for the use of restorative justice programmes. Two countries, Canada and New Zealand, have started this process.
Dialogue Project Breaks New Ground
Stop It Now! is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to create a public health response to child sexual abuse. Organized in 1992, it develops public policy, research and public education programmes. One programme brings survivors of child sexual abuse and recovering offenders together to talk about the impact of child sexual abuse. Joan Tabachnick, the director of public education for Stop It Now! describes the dialogue programme.
Finger Lakes Restorative Justice Center
The Finger Lakes Restorative Justice Center provides restorative justice services to the nine counties of the Genesee/Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York. Dr. Mary Jeanette Ebenhack, co-director, provides this overview of the organization's development.
In-Prison Victim Offender Dialogue in the US
Victim Offender Dialogue programmes in prisons provide an opportunity for victims and victim survivors to meet with their offenders to discuss the crime and issues surrounding it.
Local Community Innovations: Transformation House
This private, non-profit organization in Kentucky serves homicide survivors and convicted murderers. When both parties desire it, Transformation House brings together death row inmates with the survivors of their victim. Meet the committed woman who started this innovative program.
Making Victims' Voices Heard
Victims’ Voices Heard (VVH) provides victims and victim survivors of severe violence the opportunity to meet with their offenders in a facilitated encounter. Located in Delaware, it is based on a model first developed in Texas. Kim Book, programme coordinator for VVH, describes her experience with the criminal justice system and shares a victim perspective on the mediation process.
Marquette University Law School Kicks Off Restorative Justice Initiative.
In 2004, the Marquette University Law School augmented its Dispute Resolution Programme by creating a restorative justice initiative. This new programme seeks to "serve as a resource for victims, communities, and restorative justice organizations, as a restorative justice clinical experience for law students, and as a program promoting scholarship, research, and dialogue on restorative justice." Kyle Leighton, a programme assistant for the initiative, and Janine Geske, Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice and Distinguished Professor of Law, offer a description of the Restorative Justice Initiative and the inaugural events.
Minnesota State Supreme Court Upholds Use of Sentencing Circles
A January 2002 Minnesota Supreme Court decision reinforced the purpose and decision-making authority of sentencing-circles. The case questioned whether a circle could include a stay of adjudication as a part of sentencing recommendations.
Promoting the Use of Restorative Processes in Jamaica
In a ceremony on January 21, the Governor General of Jamaica declared 2004 the National Year of Dispute Resolution. Highlighting the country’s commitment to developing restorative processes, the declaration coincides with the 10 year anniversary of both public and private initiatives to introduce mediation in response to rising levels of violence. Activities to promote the use of restorative practices have been held throughout the year.
RSVP: Restorative Justice in a County Jail
In 2004, the San Francisco Sheriff's Department received an Innovations in American Government award for its Resolve to Stop the Violence Project (RSVP). This programme immerses men with a history of violence into an environment that helps them understand the impact of their offending and learn alternatives to violent behaviour. Inspired by the principles of restorative justice, RSVP addresses the needs of offenders, victims, and the community in responding to and preventing violence.
Restorative Discipline in Universities
In fall 2005, Fresno Pacific University implemented a restorative discipline policy to respond to conflict and rule infractions involving students. Built on the principles of restorative justice, the process seeks to provide fair, just and holistic responses to these infractions. The process consists of four stages of increasing levels of formality.
Restorative Justice in New Orleans.
Turning Point Partners is a restorative justice initiative in New Orleans, Louisiana. The group, led by Lou Furman and Jean Handley, has developed programs for the youth court, juvenile institutions, and a local charter school. Turning Point Partners sees restorative justice as a tool for teaching the skills and values needed for creating healthy and safe communities. This article about their program below was written by Lou Furman.
Restorative Practices in New School Discipline Policy
At its August 2008 meeting, the Denver Public Schools board approved a new discipline policy that includes restorative interventions. Created by a coalition school board members and community groups, the new policy seeks to lower the district's reliance on suspension and referral to law enforcement agencies. At the same time, they seek to give students and their parents more of a voice in the disciplinary process.
Restorative Practices in New School Discipline Policy
At its August 2008 meeting, the Denver Public Schools board approved a new discipline policy that includes restorative interventions. Created by a coalition school board members and community groups, the new policy seeks to lower the district's reliance on suspension and referral to law enforcement agencies. At the same time, they seek to give students and their parents more of a voice in the disciplinary process.
Serious Crimes Conferencing in Baltimore
The Community Conferencing Center offers a variety of conference services in Baltimore, Maryland. The center offers court diversion for non-violent offenses, alternatives to school suspension, re-entry conferencing, and neighborhood conflict resolution. In this article, Lauren Abramson, executive director of the Community Conferencing Center, provides an overview of a serious crimes conference held in a prison setting.

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