Are sexual abuse survivors well served by restorative justice practices?
from the entry by Maeve Lewis on One in Four:
At One in Four we have just finished a training course in restorative justice practices. We decided to do the training because so few cases of sexual abuse actually get to a criminal trail and even when they do, the survivor often feels side lined by the trial process. Restorative justice works from a different viewpoint to the criminal justice system. It brings together (usually) the person harmed with his/her family and friends wiht the offender and his /her family. It tries to create a space where the harm done can be acknowledged, where the survivor has the opportunity to describe the impact of the crime on him or her and where agreement can be reached as to what needs to be done to repair the harm.
....There is a place for the criminal trial, and it is important that sex offenders should be punished. But the criminal justice system consistently fails survivors. Even in the rare instances where there is a conviction, most survivors do not feel that justice has been done.
At One in Four we are optimistic that restorative justice, used either with or as an alternative to the criminal justice system will place the survivor right at the heart of the process. While it won’t change what has happened, it will allow the survivor to tell all the important people in his/her life, and perhaps the offender, exactly what they have suffered. It could also allow the survivor to regain some sense of control over life.
We are beginning to offer this service to our clients, so watch this space.
Read the whole entry.