California's victims restitution fund running on empty
California's fund to help victims of crime is teetering on insolvency, with state officials this week scheduled to consider several cost-cutting moves to keep the account from going broke by next year.
The state restitution fund is the payer of last resort for crime victims and the oldest such program in the country. It has covered more than $2 billion worth of doctor's bills, burial costs and other expenses from hundreds of thousands of claims since it began in 1965.
....Victims advocates point to other causes for the fund's troubles: money taken by other parts of state government.
A lesson in manners
from the editorial in Aldergrove Star:
The following is a letter written by a few teenagers, who recently used Facebook to hurt someone, intentionally. Having the letter printed in the local paper, The Agassiz Harrison Observer, is one way they are working on their restitution, through Chilliwack's Restorative Justice Program.
We have chosen to run the letter in its entirety. By law, the teens cannot be named.
Monetary relief for rape victims soon
A week after the Union Cabinet gave its nod to a gender empowering legislation that will protect women from sexual harassment at the workplace, another landmark scheme — to provide financial aid to rape victims — could soon be a reality. Decks have been cleared to provide rape victims or their legal heirs with financial aid to ensure "restorative justice" in the form of legal and medical assistance, shelter, counselling and other support services.
New law compensates 'cold case' victims
Rep. Renny Cushing said he saw one shortcoming in the bill signed into law last year establishing for the first time in the state's history a Cold Case Unit assigned to work exclusively on unsolved murder cases.
The Democratic state representative from Hampton said the bill didn't address the needs of surviving victims who may be traumatized by the reopening of an investigation into their loved ones death. That is why he sponsored a bill, which became law three weeks ago, that allows family of cold case homicides to be eligible for victim compensation regardless of the date of the crime.
Prisons, rehabilitation and justice
by Lynette Parker
Recently, I read an article about the struggles faced by the state of Florida after the US Supreme Court banned sentences of life without parole for juveniles who do not kill anyone. In the discussion over the need to revisit cases and re-sentence the offenders, one retired judge was quoted:
“There are no resources in prisons for rehabilitation,'' the former judge said. ``You give him 30 years, and he'll get out when he's 45, what's he going to do? Re-offend. Some people, regardless of their age, need to be put away forever.”
Parallel Justice for Victims of Crime
by Eric Assur
Not too many years ago Restorative Justice (RJ) was introduced, or artfully expounded on, by Howard Zehr. Now we have what appears to be a similarly unique view of the victim of crime topic through new and different lenses. The author, a seasoned and well credentialed victim advocate, and the National Center for Victims of Crime now offer an enlightening commentary and daunting challenge regarding the state of victim services. The book recommends a new way to do business, a paradigm shift to what is now labeled, Parallel Justice (PJ).
European Commission's Victims' Package: Consultation on taking action on rights, support and protection of victims of crime and violence
The Commission intends to adopt a package of measures, including a Directive on minimum standards for victims of crime, in the first half of 2011 in particular to replace the 2001 Framework Decision on the standing of victims. This consultation gives stakeholders the opportunity to present their views about which concrete actions could be developed at EU level that would bring real added value. It will also give the Commission an insight into concrete experiences of those working with victims of crime, particularly regarding the difficulties they encounter when assisting victims and the problems faced by those victims. The Commission is looking in particular for reliable data, factual information and specific real-life examples, regarding both problems and solutions.
‘Puppies for Parole’ making a difference
Puppies for Parole, as the Missouri Department of Corrections calls the program, is at work in eight state prisons, where offenders have the time and patience to give dogs from shelters basic obedience training.
What were they thinking? Horse farms and inmates?
It was one of those feel-good programs that come across reporters' desks nearly every day. This was from the state prison system: "Restorative Justice Benefits Women Inmates and Starving Horses."
Here's what the news release said:
The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services today added yet another to its growing list of unique restorative justice inmate initiatives, putting a work crew comprised of female inmates at Howard County’s Days End Farm Horse Rescue. The inmates, from the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women (MCI-W) in Jessup, will begin with grounds maintenance and landscaping, and eventually move into equine care. “What we try to do with these restorative justice programs is not only give inmates skills and the chance to pay back the society they’ve harmed, but meaningful projects that really do make a difference in the lives of people -- and in this case, horses,” said DPSCS Secretary Gary Maynard.
Only state prison officials forgot to tell the neighbors of the horse farm, as well as the young volunteers who work there. Now, state officials have shut down the program, according to a story by The Baltimore Sun's Larry Carson.
Can you work for the victim and the offender?
by Lisa Rea
I had two things happen to me recently that gave me pause. It is the story of two people. One is the story of a crime victim. The other is a story of an ex-offender.
The crime victim lost her husband to murder years ago in California. I've known this woman largely via email for many years as we both have worked for justice reform. This victim worked for an organization in California that often took positions regarding prison and sentencing policies than have not been positions I could support as an advocate of restorative justice. But regardless, she and I have been "friends". In time, I believe she saw me as a supporter of crime victims, something that I have worked hard to be. She was a good person and a nice human being.