Category Archives: Advocacy

Victims Confront Offenders, Face To Face

Victims Confront Offenders, Face To Face July 28, 2011 Audio for this story from Talk of the Nation will be available at approx. 6:00 p.m. ET.

Guests Sujatha Baliga, senior program specialist, National Council on Crime and Delinquency Robert Johnson, former president, National District Attorneys Association July 28, 2011 Even when criminal cases end in guilty verdicts, sometimes victims need more. A growing number of jurisdictions are giving offenders and victims a chance to meet each other, and even reconcile. Some go further, giving crime victims a say in the offenders’ punishment, without ever going to trial.

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NEWS: RESTORE Director Elected to National Board

Mesa, Arizona, 04/11/2011 — Frustrated neighbors, feuding families, and others caught in stressful situations have a new advocate in their quest to finally put their conflicts to rest.  John Gehm, Director of Restore, Inc. has recently been elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association for Community Mediation.  In this new capacity, John Gehm will serve as a national advocate for increased awareness, accessibility, and utilization of constructive community mediation and other conflict-assistance services.

Community mediation helps those in difficult conflicts directly engage the other side and work through the situation using a trained, impartial mediator.  From noisy neighbors to family fall-outs, interpersonal spats to embattled public policy divisions, community mediation works to move individuals and entire communities from conflict to concord.  In fact, over 400 community mediation programs throughout the country assist countless individuals each year in overcoming seemingly impossible problems to discover their own customized resolutions to earlier discord.

Through Gehm’s new role, programs everywhere will benefit from his extensive background and local experience helping our own community better engage its conflicts.  He will work to equip and enhance these services in other communities, as he shares this national platform and wisdom through his continued service to our own area residents.

For additional information, please contact: Justin R. Corbett, Executive Director of the National Association for Community Mediation (NAFCM), at (602) 633-4213 or admin@nafcm.org.

Additional information about NAFCM: In communities around the globe, programs and volunteers share their expertise to help others constructively engage, transform, and resolve conflict.  NAFCM supports these peacemakers by aggregating their wisdom, amplifying their voice, and advancing their critical work.  An active advocate for constructive conflict-assistive services, NAFCM support the over 400 community mediation programs across the U.S. and many others internationally.  For more information, including an interactive map of local programs and resources to help you move beyond conflict, please visit www.nafcm.org.

 Justin R. Corbett
National Association for Community Mediation
(602) 633-4213
admin@nafcm.org
www.nafcm.org

We incarcerate too many youth and our government is broke

We incarcerate too many youth and our government is broke—we’ve heard both laments lately in the news. The cry goes up for an effective way to deal with youthful offenders—a way that is cost effective, proven, humane, and rehabilitative. The answer is here: Restorative Justice.

Restorative Justice is an age-old way of dealing with infractions upon societal norms. It involves those who have been wronged, and allows them to have a say in the outcome. It holds the perpetrator directly responsible for the wrong-doing, and seeks to reintegrate him or her into the community. It is an alternative to incarceration that reduces recidivism and costs, and provides better emotional outcomes for victims and offenders. It involves a face-to-face meeting between the parties to get answers and provide accountability. Meetings are facilitated by an experienced mediator.

RESTORE, Inc, formerly the Victim-Offender Mediation Program, has offered this service in southeastern South Dakota for nearly 20 years.  The program is underutilized, however, and is ready to step in today to alleviate budget and other problems associated with nonviolent juvenile offenders.  Restorative Justice programs have been used across the United States for over 25 years, but are based in indigenous practices that have been in use for thousands of years.  Dozens of studies exist to prove their effectiveness. In South Dakota, the Center for Restorative Justice in Rapid City was created under the leadership of Judge Merton B. Tice, Jr. in 1997, and mediates many cases each year. I helped set up programs in Indiana, New Hampshire, and Michigan that have been in operation for decades. As a consultant to the National Institute of Corrections, I have evaluated the effectiveness of such programs and have published many articles in the field.  I know it works.

It’s time for South Dakota to stop thinking about punishment only in terms of jail and prison.  Thinking about crime through the lens of restorative justice translates into a philosophy of  making things right—for the victim, the offender, and the community as a whole. RESTORE is ready to put Restorative Justice to work. The question is, is South Dakota ready for a better approach?

Challenging the status quo remains a risky business

Journalism Professor Who Helped Free 5 Innocent Men from Death Roll Has Been Sacked | Civil Liberties | AlterNet.

Burning Bridges

Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Information Night

A restorative justice information night will be held on Thursday, March 17 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in meeting room A at the downtown public library in Sioux Falls.

The event will open at 6:30 with a 35-minute documentary film shown at 7:00. The film, “Burning Bridges,” will be followed by a question and answer time with refreshments.

Burning Bridges recounts the aftermath of the arson of an historic wooden covered bridge by six local young men in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The focus is on the restorative conference that dealt with the shock and outrage of the community and how the young men were held accountable, as well as the fear and grief experienced by the perpetrators and their families in this small community.

The film provides an excellent introduction to restorative justice, which seeks to repair the harm done to victims of crime and hold offenders accountable in a meaningful, rehabilitative way. Restorative justice can also be used to resolve disputes in schools, churches, businesses, neighborhoods, and families. Information will be available on upcoming mediation workshop opportunities.

The event is sponsored by RESTORE, Inc., a non-profit organization which provides mediation services in southeastern South Dakota. For details, call (605) 338-6020 or email Restore-SD@sio.midco.net

Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation

This is news from Connecticut, a state where, as in Illinois, the movement to abolish state homicide is gathering momentum. One thing that always catches my attention is the MVFR tagline.   Like restorative justice, you can never ‘undo’ what has happened but you can decide how you want to live afterwards.

Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation
Reconciliation means accepting that you cannot undo the murder but you can decide how you want to live afterwards.

March 8, 2011
Friends,
I hope you got a chance to see some of the daylong hearing in Connecticut yesterday. Several victims’ family members including Gail Canzano, Elizabeth Brancato and Walt Everett testified. As soon as they post the archived video and transcripts, I’ll send out a link. In the meantime, there was lots of testimony about the number of folks in Connecticut who support the death penalty based on polling. There is a newspaper poll today in the [Hartford] Courant that we can weigh in on.    See: Courant poll and vote.
Warmly,
Beth Wood

It’s Time For Our Nation To Be Smart on Crime Smart on Crime

Recommendations for the Administration and Congress provides the 112th Congress and the Obama administration with analysis of the problems plaguing our state and federal criminal justice systems and a series of recommendations to address these failures. The report examines the entire criminal justice system, from the creation of new criminal laws to ex-offenders’ reentry into communities after serving their sentences.  Recommendations range from helping to restore and empower victims to identifying ways to protect the rights of the accused. Due to the undeniable human costs and the overwhelming fiscal costs, Americans from diverse political perspectives–particularly professionals with experience in all aspects of the criminal justice system–recognize that the system fails too many, costs too much, and helps too few. Smart on Crime provides the most promising recommendations for resolving our nation’s criminal justice crisis.  You can read or download the full report here.

It is worth noting how many of the recommendations are restorative.