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Restorative Justice and Apology

Articles and other resources on the nature and meaning of apology in restorative justice.

Forgiving my daughter's killer
from Linda L. White's blog entry on washingtonpost.com: One of the two 15-year-old boys who killed my 26-year-old daughter Cathy was released from prison last month after serving 23 years of a 54-year sentence. Gary Brown was released from prison one week before the Supreme Court decided in Graham v. Florida to end the practice of sentencing juveniles to life without parole for crimes other than murder.
Police apologise over child murders probe
from the article on BBC News: Scotland's largest police force has apologised for a series of failures in its handling of a double child murder. Strathclyde Police said that it was "extremely sorry" for the way Giselle Ross was treated after the deaths of her sons, Paul, six, and Jay, two. The children were murdered by their father Ashok Kalyanjee at a beauty spot in the Campsie Fells in May 2008.
Crime victims get right to apology
from Bob Roberts' article in the Mirror: Criminals could be ordered to say sorry to victims in face-toface meetings as part of their sentence. Gordon Brown wants those who have had offences committed against them to be given the right to a personal apology. Criminals would also have to explain why they broke the law and offer some way of putting it right. The plans to shame them would be on top of any prison or community sentence handed out.
Africville apology is a start, not an end
from Mike Barber's entry on Internet Health Info: This week's apology by city of Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly, for the evictions and razing of the African-Canadian community of Africville in Nova Scotia during the 1960s, marks a small but significant moment in the history of slavery and racism in Canada. The official apology issued February 24, 2010, made on behalf of Halifax Regional Council and Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), was accompanied by terms of the 2005 agreement reached between the municipality and the Africville Genealogy Society, which, along with a formal acknowledgment of loss, included: * $3 million (CAN) contributed towards the reconstruction of the Seaview United Baptist Church which will serve as a memorial to Africville; * 2.5 acres of land at Seaview Park to be provided to the Africville Heritage Trust Board; * a park maintenance agreement to be established between Africville Heritage Trust and HRM for the lands known as Seaview Park; * and, the establishment of an African-Nova Scotian Affairs function within HRM.
Thief returns stolen penguin with apology
by Elisa Hahn on KING 5 News: Ten-year-old Alexis Hood read the letter of apology Wednesday while sitting next to her penguin that was stolen New Years Day. "Dear family, we are very sorry for the trouble we have caused for your family," she read.
wrongful convictions hurt crime victims
Thanks for posting this. Penny Beernstsen's story is amazing. I will provide more detail about her story. Wrongful convictions are real and in the U.S. [...]
Restorative justice from a survivor's perspective
by Penny Beerntsen Note: this article originally appeared as a comment responding to a posting by Lisa Rea. We were concerned that many readers may have missed it and so are posting it as its own entry. We are grateful to Penny Beerntsen for her willingness to share her extraordinary story. As a survivor of a violent crime, I am a firm believer in the power of restorative justice programs to transform both the victim and the offender. I learned about victim offender conferencing shortly after surviving a violent sexual assault and attempted murder. Although I was unable to meet with my offender, as he had not taken responsibility for his crime, I began participating in victim impact panels inside prisons. Although I was not speaking directly to my offender, I was telling my story to others who were incarcerated for violent crimes, including rape. Much of my healing took place inside maximum security prisons as a result of the dialogue I engaged in with these offenders. If someone had told me at the time of the crime that this would be the case, I would have told that individual they were crazy! I participated in these panels because I thought I had something to offer the offenders. I learned that the process, if properly conducted, is mutually beneficial.
Escobar's son seeks atonement for father's sins
from Juan Forero's report on NPR: Pablo Escobar, who led Colombia's Medellin cocaine cartel, was once the world's most wanted man. At the height of his power in the 1980s, he killed politicians and policemen and ordered an airliner blown out of the sky. With U.S. help, the Colombian police finally hunted him down. Sixteen years after Escobar's death, the families of his victims haven't forgotten about him. And neither has Escobar's only son [Sebastian Marroquin], whose story is told in a new documentary film that opens Dec. 10 in Colombia and then in January at the Sundance Film Festival. The son, who lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, says that he wants to atone for the sins of his father.
Apology lite: Truths, doubts, and reconciliations in the Senate’s guarded apology for slavery
from Kaimipono David Wenger's article in Connecticut Law Review CONNections: The United States Senate formally apologized for slavery on June 18, 2009. This followed an apology made nearly a year earlier, on July 29, 2008, by the House of Representatives. Unlike the House apology, the Senate apology contains additional limiting language, specifically stating that it cannot be used as a ground for monetary compensation. The apology is nearly nine hundred words, with a preamble which goes into some detail about the wrongness of slavery, admitting that slaves were “brutalized, humiliated, [and] dehumanized.” It then states: (1) APOLOGY FOR THE ENSLAVEMENT AND SEGREGATION OF AFRICAN-AMERICANS.—The Congress . . . apologizes to African-Americans on behalf of the people of the United States, for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow laws . . . . (2) DISCLAIMER.—Nothing in this resolution— (A) authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or (B) serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States.
Community justice: Not to you or for you, but with you
by Christa Pierpont. The “magic” of restorative practices comes from a principled belief that when there is a breach in relationships, people can re-story their lives (often in gifted ways), given an active and supported responsibility to do so. It is clear from the research report, Restorative Justice: The Evidence, (Lawrence W. Sherman and Heather Strang, Smith Institute, 2007) that individuals can transcend large and small wrongs in a highly satisfactory way with improved long-term consequences when restorative practices are used. Our next question was: Could this opportunity be expanded from individuals to a wider sense of cultural harms?
Community justice: Not to you or for you, but with you
by Christa Pierpont. This is a selection of an article from a special online complement to the Summer 2008 issue of ACResolution, Vol 7, Issue 4. The Association for Conflict Resolution has given permission for it to be used on RJOnline. The complete article is attached. The “magic” of restorative practices comes from a principled belief that when there is a breach in relationships, people can re-story their lives (often in gifted ways), given an active and supported responsibility to do so. It is clear from the research report, Restorative Justice: The Evidence, (Lawrence W. Sherman and Heather Strang, Smith Institute, 2007) that individuals can transcend large and small wrongs in a highly satisfactory way with improved long-term consequences when restorative practices are used. Our next question was: Could this opportunity be expanded from individuals to a wider sense of cultural harms? In particular, could restorative processes begin to address underlying racial anger and fears in our region without exacerbating negative economic realities? These questions grew out of dynamics we were discovering as we explored the history of public school education in Virginia. When the RCF studied school disciplinary statistics for public schools, we found a significantly higher rate of disciplinary action for low-income and minority youth. Efforts are now being made to reduce out-of-classroom placements and to transition to more restorative disciplinary practices, but it will take decades and funding to re-build skills for individuals who have given up on the public school system.
Create an apology letter online
An IRA bomber and a victim's daughter
from Lisa Rea's entry at Change.org: On Tuesday, former Irish Republican Army (IRA) activist Pat Magee, who was convicted of the Brighton bombings in 1984, met Jo Berry, daughter of Sir Anthony Berry, one of the five victims killed in the blast. Though Magee had been given eight life sentences, he was freed in 1999 under the negotiated terms of the Good Friday Agreement of 1999. Magee's conviction was based on his planning of the bomb and for attempting to kill British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who was attending a conference at the Grand Hotel in Brighton (above), where the bomb was planted.
Victim's family meets with Gaddafi
Hello, Lisa. It is wonderful to hear from you here. I'm sure we'd all love to hear more of your experience. You said you requested [...]
Meeting with Gaddafi
Thanks for writing about this. I requested the meeting with Muammar Gaddafi after years of building relations with Libya. I have been on a journey [...]
Meeting with Lockerbie Families
Thanks, Lisa. All the comments from the families in the article were positive. So, for those families at least, it was a positive meeting. I've [...]
Meeting with Lockerbie Victims
Thank you for this, Lynette. Do you think the brief meeting that occurred between the victim's family member and Gaddafi had a positive effect from [...]
Meeting with Lockerbie Families
Over the weekend, I was interested to read this article from BBC of a meeting with some of the family members of those who died [...]
Ex-Vietnam lieutenant apologizes for My Lai massacre: opening doors for restorative justice?
Justice and mercy
by Dan Van Ness The compassionate release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of participation in the bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, has generated a great deal of discussion. And well it might; 270 people died when the plane crashed (259 passengers and 11 residents of Lockerbie). Al-Megrahi was the only person convicted of the terrorist attack.

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