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Hearing the Relatives of Murder and Manslaughter Victims:Response to Government’s consultation from the Restorative Justice Consortium

Restorative Justice Consortium., Robin J
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) London, England: Restorative Justice Consortium

We should make it clear at the outset what we are not proposing. Restorative justice is often proposed as an alternative to sentencing for less serious crimes, but
that is obviously not the case with homicide. Secondly, it is often presented as an opportunity for the offender to apologize and the victim (in this case the relative) to forgive. The restorative justice process may make those interactions more likely, but it does not aim at them; it only provides a channel of communication for them to use in the way most helpful to them. There should be no expectation of an apology, which might not be sincere, and certainly no pressure for forgiveness, although evidence suggests that those who are able to forgive find it helpful. Thirdly, it does not consist merely in bringing the relative(s) and the offender together; it should begin with several interviews with both the relatives and the offender to make sure
that they understand what the process may be like, to make as sure as possible that it will be constructive, and if there is a possibility that it will not go as expected, to prepare them for that (if they want to go ahead nonetheless) or to recommend that the contact should not proceed. The contact is not necessarily face-to-face – that is their choice – although the evidence suggests that the participants derive greater benefit when it is.
What we are proposing is that relatives should be made aware that there are possibilities for them to communicate with the offender, with careful preparation,
support and safeguards. This may lead to the results mentioned above; another result may be to discharge any hostile feelings so that when the offender is eventually
released, both he or she and the relatives need no longer fear each other, if the offender returns to live in the same locality. (excerpt)


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