How to respond to violent crime? Ask the victims of crime
RJI will be exploring various legislative responses to violent crime in the U.S. and beyond. We will highlight in particular public policy recommendations that reflect responses based on restorative justice. At this time we are posting the following statute which came from legislation authored by crime victim and survivor Robert “Renny” Cushing who was elected and this year re-elected to the New Hampshire Legislature.
D.C. sniper speaks 10 years after violence: Can restorative justice apply here?
It’s been 10 years since the D.C. sniper took 10 lives and wounded three. The following are two stories (including one audio tape) from Josh White of the Washington Post (September 29, 2012) interviewing Lee Boyd Malvo, the young killer who voluntarily did the bidding of John Allen Muhammad. Malvo and Muhammad went on a killing spree that lasted 23 days in October 2002 terrorizing the victims and their families and all who lived in the D.C. region. As we provide a link to these stories we think of the victims and the victims’ families. We also consider the words of Lee Boyd Malvo who tells his victims “to forget him.” Can restorative justice be applied here? Could the victims or their families choose restorative justice now in this case?
Does restorative justice mean forgiveness?
by Lisa Rea
This is a pretty controversial topic: forgiveness and restorative justice. Do all crime victims who support restorative justice therefore forgive? Does one come then the other? I don’t think so. I know many victims of violent crime who have forgiven. Many of their stories are online at Restorative Justice International (RJI) (see victims stories) and I have told others on this blog.
What is problematic to me is when advocates, experts, volunteers in the restorative justice field (or prison reform field) “expect” victims to forgive or worse they “urge” victims to forgive. To me, it is a journey that only the victim can make. Forgiveness can flow out of participating in a victim offender dialogue (i.e. a restorative justice meeting) but we cannot assume it will. It is rather presumptious for anyone to expect of victim of violent crime to forgive the offender. It’s wonderful when it happens but it is not a necessary outcome of restorative justice.
Restorative justice: The new way forward
from Lisa Rea's article in Baylor University's Christian Refelction issue on Prison:
.... Some might argue that our prison system was never meant to positively affect victims and communities. I will not analyze the original purpose of prisons in society, but we know that prisons have become something far different than what they were intended to be. Most societies have incarcerated individuals who were deemed to be a violent threat to others, but the United States prison system today has grown immensely beyond this rationale. As a result, the American state and federal prison population has expanded dramatically.
Penn State's response to child sexual abuse: What about the victims?
by Lisa Rea
As the story comes out in more detail about the alleged sexual abuse of children by Jerry Sandusky, former assistant football coach at Penn State, the coverage of the story seems to be more about the actions of veteran coach Joe Paterno--his resignation or the university's decision to fire him.
Is Georgia Ready to Execute an Innocent Man?
by Lisa Rea
I read the papers this morning online searching for this story about Troy Davis. When I read the news that the Georgia Board of Pardons did not grant clemency and that Davis was set to be executed on Wednesday September 21 I swallowed hard. I had not followed this case closely until recently. My work in the last 19 years has been focused on reforming the justice system through advocating for restorative justice. However, in recent years I have met innocent men who were on death row for crimes they did not commit. They are the lucky ones; they're alive to tell their stories. I have met even more victims of violent crime whose loved ones have been murdered around the United States who are increasingly raising their voices against the death penalty. Many of those same crime victims are strong advocates for restorative justice.
Sep 21, 2011 Correspondent:Lisa Rea
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.
Victim's daughter meets IRA bomber: An interview with Jo Berry
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 from 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 meeting(s) happen? What was the process? Were you, and Pat, adequately prepared to meet? Walk us through what happened.
An alarming Supreme Court ruling against an innocent man
by Lisa Rea
It is hard to fathom the actions of the Supreme Court at times. This ruling is one of those times. Read the case of John Thompson, a wrongfully convicted man in New Orleans who spent 14 years on death row for a crime he did not commit.
I have written of a case like this previously (i.e. exoneree Greg Wilhoit on Oklahoma's death row) but this case has a different twist. The exoneree was seeking compensation from the District Attorney for the years he spent on death row because a prosecutor who worked for his office hid evidence that would have freed him---a blood test among other things. The Supreme Court ruling (5-4) written by Justice Clarence Thomas states that while there was "misconduct" by the prosecutor (Ginsburg points out there were actually four prosecutors involved), that "did not prove deliberate indifference" by the District Attorney.
Laura's Law: Remembering the victims of violence
by Lisa Rea
Considering gun related violence and its impact on the victims, I remember the courageous work of Amanda and Nick Wilcox in Northern California in the name of their daughter, Laura. A recent press piece describes what they have done to fight violence since the shooting death of their daughter at the hands of Scott Thorpe on January 10, 2001.