- Showing 7 posts published between Mar 01, 2010 and Mar 31, 2010 [Show all]
After murders, families find a healing path
Note: Forgiveness is a controversial and difficult topic for many victims of crime. Nevertheless, there are victims who are able to forgive those who have harmed them severely. They do this for many reasons -- there may be as many reasons as there are victims who forgive.
After restorative encounters, some victims find that they wish to forgive the offender. This is not the goal of restorative justice, however. The value of restorative encounters for victims is to achieve some measure of healing; in some instances that includes forgiveness. The following article is the story of survivors of two brutal murders who have chosen to forgive.
Four sisters — Ruth, Frieda, Bess and Suzy — have lived 40 years without their mother. Helen Klassen, a Sunday school teacher, was murdered March 14, 1969.
Bill Pelke’s grandmother, Ruth Pelke, was killed by four teenage girls in Gary who robbed her house May 14, 1985.
These acts of violence devastated two families and, for the Klassen sisters, infected the years of their youth. Their path to adulthood was fraught with struggles of how to heal and when to forgive.
On March 15 at College Mennonite Church, Pelke and three of the Klassen sisters spoke about their evolution from fear and anger to healing and forgiveness. Their stories have been told around the world through Journey of Hope, an organization co-founded by Pelke and led by murder victims’ family members, such as the Klassens, who oppose the death penalty.
What role should crime victims play in plea bargains?
Prosecutors represent the state, not crime victims, and they're charged with seeking justice, not convictions. But the Houston Press published a feature questioning whether prosecutors should be required to notify crime victims or get their sign-off before entering into a plea deal. The Harris County DA's Office says "There is no obligation to give advance notice to all victims of plea bargains," a policy which has the Mayor's crime victim advocate Andy Kahan hopping mad.
Africville apology is a start, not an end
This week's apology by city of Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly, for the evictions and razing of the African-Canadian community of Africville in Nova Scotia during the 1960s, marks a small but significant moment in the history of slavery and racism in Canada. The official apology issued February 24, 2010, made on behalf of Halifax Regional Council and Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), was accompanied by terms of the 2005 agreement reached between the municipality and the Africville Genealogy Society, which, along with a formal acknowledgment of loss, included:
- $3 million (CAN) contributed towards the reconstruction of the Seaview United Baptist Church which will serve as a memorial to Africville;
- 2.5 acres of land at Seaview Park to be provided to the Africville Heritage Trust Board;
- a park maintenance agreement to be established between Africville Heritage Trust and HRM for the lands known as Seaview Park;
- and, the establishment of an African-Nova Scotian Affairs function within HRM.
Amnesty and justice in Afghanistan: "a nose made of dough"
British newspapers including The Guardian recently reported that a controversial amnesty law, approved by Afghanistan parliament, is being brought into force without having been announced in the weeks leading up to the London Conference on Afghanistan. The amnesty precludes prosecution for war crimes committed in conflicts during previous decades.
The amnesty law, under the title of the “national peace and reconciliation charter”, was shelved for almost two years after being passed by a small majority in January 2007 by both the Afghan house of representatives and the senate. Although Afghan President Hamid Karzai was reported to have approved the law in March 2007, hailing it as “Parliament’s initiative for strengthening peace in Afghanistan”, the fate of the law remained unclear until recently, with no reference to it in the Afghan Law Gazette.
True community policing means restorative justice
Community Policing has become one of those "assumed good things" that we all are supposed to support. But what do we mean by community policing? Does it mean we should be happy with just having a police officer at a community meeting, or on the street? Is a beat cop the whole story? Is there a role for the community beyond being informants?
My view of Community Policing has to do with merging community values and existing statues. Local communities need to be involved in helping community youth become aware and understand what is acceptable and what is not.
Restorative justice: Updating Jirga in NWFP Pakistan
I and my partner, Sarah Bird, met Ali Gohar when we travelled to Pakistan to teach Energy Psychology techniques for treating PTSD after the earthquake of October 2005. This article from Peacebuilder magazine tells about the amazing work Ali is doing with the traditional restorative justice circle, called 'jirga'...
Ali Gohar, MA ’02, is working to update the traditional system of jirga in the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. He believes passionately in the core function of jirga, whereby certain elders are recognized in their communities for their wisdom and ethics; these elders gather to make community-wide decisions, resolve problems, and dispense justice.
Gohar has been encouraging jirga’s elders to incorporate current principles of human rights, conflict resolution, reconciliation, and restorative justice into their deliberations.
Restorative justice considers the merits of cases not just rules…
The disturbing case of Albert Holland whose lawyer failed to adequately represent him points out a growing problem with our traditional courts: the focus on the law and rules vs. the facts and merits of particular cases in making rulings.
Most American legal cases are being decided on procedure and law, “the rules,” and not on equity or the merits of cases. See Michael J. Sandel’s Democracy’s Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy.
The merits are about people and the particular facts about their unique experience in every conflict. Our courts should be places where people can go to find fairness and justice. Court should be a place where people know they can go to have the facts of their cases heard and considered by other people, judges, who care.