Give prisoners the chance to help the community
"I want to be out there, helping people," says one prisoner in the report, who could have been speaking for many of those I met while serving my own 20 years of prison time.
....Probably the best such experience was when I joined the Braille Unit in my first long-term high security prison. The 12 of us who worked in the unit had all been convicted of murder and for most of us it was first time in our lives that we had experienced the satisfaction that can be gained from helping other people. The prison held more than 700 of the most serious offenders in the country, but the only official opportunity for any of us to put something back into the outside community that we had harmed so badly were those 12 places in the Braille Unit.
Restorative justice and the challenge of prison reform
Crucially, prisoners have to learn to accept responsibility for the harm their criminal activities have caused to individual victims, family and neighbourhood. This largely transformative component is implemented at the beginning of any given prison sentence and is maintained throughout the term of custody.
....Wherever practical and possible, prisoners are made responsible for any financial compensation owed to victims. To this end, a restoration fund may be established and prisoners able to earn money in order to pay victim compensation. This encourages a degree of responsibility in prisoners whilst providing reparation for victims.
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.