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Victim Assistance

A primary principle of restorative justice is that crime causes injuries and justice should repair those. Victim assistance is a way of both limiting and beginning to repair those injuries. These articles and resources concern efforts to offer support and assistance to crime victims.

Crime victims meet offenders in new restorative justice programme
from the article by Rachel Millard in The Argus: A mother said it “felt good” to look a burglar in the eye and explain the damage he caused her family. Tracey Clift sat down with the thief who took irreplaceable items including the medal her grandfather had won in the First World War and a charm bracelet from her father. She went to meet him in Lewes Prison, where the burglar is serving time for other crimes, almost five years after he broke into her Worthing home via the kitchen window and stole “most of our family history” from the safe.
Oscar Pistorius' sentence: A missed opportunity?
from the post by Mike Batley on Restorative Justice Centre in South Africa: The sentence that Judge Masipa has decided on reflects the careful balancing act required of a diligent sentencing officer. She has taken the calls by the State for direct imprisonment into account but not to the extent the prosecutor wanted; she has taken into account the call by the defence for Oscar to make a contribution to society by not imposing as lengthy a term of imprisonment as she could have.... These are some of the broader dimensions that could have been explored:
Project Turnaround earns kudos
from the article by Sarah Jarvis in The Timaru Herald: When it comes to exceptional service and notable results, Timaru's restorative justice programme is leading the way. The Ministry of Justice-funded programme, known locally as Project Turnaround, ranked No 1 out of 22 national providers in a recent survey.
Charities share £145k to help crime victims
from the article in the Oxford Mail: Five charities in Oxfordshire have been given more than £145,000 in funding to help develop services for victims of crime.
Study finds executions do little to heal victims’ families
from the article on PsychCentral: A new study suggests that the primary reason people say they support the death penalty is based on an incorrect assumption — that the death of the murderer would bring satisfaction and closure to the victim’s family. The study itself does not advocate for the death penalty or for life without the possibility of parole (LWOP). It is the first study, however, dealing directly with whether capital punishment affects the healing of murder victims’ loved ones.
On the defensive: The need for restorative justice
from the article by Anthony Cotton on The Wisconsin Law Journal: In 1993, the Wisconsin Constitution was amended to give crime victims certain privileges. Those privileges include, but are not limited to, restitution, compensation, the right to confer with the prosecution and the right to speak at sentencing.
Editorial: The best arena for victim redress?
from the article in the Sage e-bulletin from the Church Council on Justice and Corrections: Can the justice system ever be the arena for victims’ redress if redress means true healing and moving on from trauma and its effects? A criminal justice system built on punitive measures and adversarial posturing exacerbates the victim wound and creates even more layers of self protection against active resolution of one’s own wounding and the wounding one does to another. Further the judicial system is the state’s arena, not the victim’s, for redress against crimes committed and therefore its capacity to adequately redress victims’ needs where those needs are most required is difficult at best. Victims are left with insufficient avenues to get to the root of needed healing. And incarceration that does not consistently include those rehabilitation options that contribute to victim redress, does not hold real solutions to changing behaviour or creating public and victim safety in the long term.
Archdiocese walks with violence victims’ families through ‘ministry of presence’
from the article by Edison Tapalla: In October 2012, the Office of Public Policy and Social Concerns for the Archdiocese of San Francisco began the Restorative Justice Ministry for Victims and Families of Violent Crime. Working closely with the city of San Francisco, the ministry helps the families of victims of violent crime navigate the period of time when a loved one is lost. In addition to helping with survivors’ loss and grief, the ministry also helps with funeral arrangements, translations, paperwork and – in cases of extreme need – expenses.
Lisa Rea on Restorative Justice: Is the Message Getting Through?
I agree with Victims Support. Here in the U.S. we are still having the debate about restorative justice: what it is and what it's not. [...]
John Perry, Vermont on Restorative Justice: Is the Message Getting Through?
So many of our folks think that Restorative Justice is about the offender. This is not so. Restorative Justice is about helping the victim heal, [...]
Restorative Justice: Is the Message Getting Through?
From the article by Javed Khan: It's funny how you find out that you're winning the argument. I was watching EastEnders when I realised attitudes towards restorative justice were really shifting. The episode showed Kat Moon meeting Ronnie Mitchell - the woman who had stolen Kat's baby - at the prison gates. It was an intense and dramatic scene ending with Kat inviting Ronnie to stay with her, despite her continuing anger at the crime. For years we have been arguing that victims want more than just punishment for their offenders - they want them to stop committing crimes and to understand the impact of those crimes. In some cases, victims even want a face-to-face explanation from the criminal about why they committed the offence.
Vision 21: Transforming victim services. Final report
from the report released by the Office for Victims of Crime: ...The discussions that formed the basis for Vision 21 demonstrated that only a truly comprehensive and far-reaching approach would achieve the vast changes needed to move the field forward. Stakeholders saw that a holistic approach to victims’ needs is essential but will require unprecedented collaboration among service providers, an ongoing challenge for the field.
Abuse forum must have 'emphasis on restorative justice' say MSPs
from the article on STV News: A plan to offer child abuse victims a forum to relive their experiences must be accompanied by an emphasis on achieving justice for survivors, a committee of MSPs has concluded. The Scottish Government wants to establish a National Confidential Forum (NCF) to "provide an opportunity for adults who were placed in institutional care as children to recount their experiences in a confidential, non-judgemental and supportive setting".
Building on the One Fund: Victim centered restorative justice for survivors of violent crime
from the entry by Noam Schimmel on Huffington Post: In an outpouring of support, millions of dollars have been raised to help support victims of the Boston marathon attacks and their families. To date, more than 32 million dollars have been raised from individuals, foundations, and corporations by The One Fund.... Victim centered restorative justice - such as that provided by the One Fund - seeks to provide maximal support and rehabilitation to victims of crime.
Restorative justice: Re-storying what happened in Boston
from the entry by Pierre R. Berastain on Huffingtonpost.com: ....We have seen some coverage of restorative practices as an alternative model to responding to conflict, particularly in the criminal justice system and with students who misbehave. In essence, the restorative process invites us to sit in circle, and, as a community affected by crime, determine how to best meet the needs of those involved. Restorative justice rejects one-size-fits-all models and prefers creative processes to conflict resolution.
More meditations on restorative justice
from the entry by kario on The Writing Life: ….It wasn't until I saw my molester as a human being that I began to heal my own profound wounds. I spent years in therapy, took lots of different anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants, started yoga, and came to a better place, but the REAL freedom from pain came when I forgave him. Not in person (I don't honestly even know if he is alive today), but in my heart. That doesn't mean that I don't still feel the impact of his behavior in my life and it doesn't mean I would have the courage to meet him face-to-face if I had the opportunity, although I hope I would. It means that I acknowledge that he made a big mistake and, as a human being, he was entitled to do that. It doesn't mean that he is absolved of any wrongdoing, especially since I suspect he molested lots of other children as well, but it means that I don't feel as though I can pass judgment on him and his life. I certainly don't believe he deserves to be killed for his actions, although I did for many, many years.
The healing potential in Circle, life after death and the wisdom of lived experience
from Kris Miner's entry in Restorative Justice and Circles: ....As part of Restorative Response, a program of SCVRJP, the community can request a Circle. Restorative Response is a program to address healing after un-natural death. For example homicide, suicide, traffic fatality, drug-overdose, accidents that might cause a sudden, unexpected loss. Reseach & training has taught us that un-natural death includes additional elements to process. This includes 3 “V’s”, the violence, violation and volition. By speaking and listening to one another in Circle, you can begin to let the process of talking about these 3 “V’s”. I’ve been amazed at these ‘life after death’ Circles. Hearing each others stories, reduces isolation, increases understanding and promotes peace of heart. I firmly believe: Circles Heal.
Law professor says ‘restorative justice’ can heal
from the article by Kieth Upchurch in the Herald Sun: To illustrate how communication can make a profound difference in people’s lives, Powell showed a video of interviews with a young couple whose home was broken into while they were gone and the two teens who did it. Through mediation, the boys said they came to realize how deeply they hurt the couple, who suffered anger and fear after the break-in. In turn, the couple said talking face-to-face helped them to understand the boys’ actions, and they eventually forgave them.
juvenile lifers & restorative justice
I agree with Jennifer Bishop Jenkins. Restorative justice is all about crime victims. Its very definition is victims-centered and we believe victims-driven. The challenge, as [...]
There should be no question of "common ground" - Restorative Justice IS about victims
Thanks to Mr. Lash for this positive article, and of course these are nice words for us to hear. What is lacking from most advocates [...]

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