Sunday, August 17, 2008

Restorative Justice

Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Restorative Justice

What is restorative justice?

Restorative justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused or revealed by criminal behaviour. It is best accomplished through cooperative processes that include all stakeholders.
Practices and programs reflecting restorative purposes will respond to crime by:

- identifying and taking steps to repair harm,
- involving all stakeholders, and
- transforming the traditional relationship between communities and their governments in responding to crime.

Some of the programmes and outcomes typically identified with restorative justice include:

- Victim offender mediation
- Conferencing
- Circles
- Victim assistance
- Ex-offender assistance
- Restitution
- Community service

TAKE - the movie

Take deals with the controversial topics of crime, forgiveness, and punishment. It offers a riveting view of the human side of crime. We meet Ana, the mother of a child killed during an armed robbery, and Saul, the gambling addict who committed that crime. In the course of the movie we come to see that a criminal act is much more than "breaking the law." It is also a destructive act that wounds victims, communities, and even perpetrators.

In the movie's climactic scene, Ana asks to meet with Saul. The prison authorities are reluctant to give permission, but eventually relent. It is during the meeting that both find release from the burdens of the past.

Restorative justice is a worldwide movement that, like Take, focuses attention on the human dimensions of crime. Its goal is to help victims, offenders and others touched by crime find a measure of healing and resolution. This may be accomplished through victim assistance and support, sentences of restitution or other ways of making amends, reintegration of ex-offenders into society as productive members, and so forth.

How it works…

The hallmark programs associated with restorative justice offer victims, offenders, and others the opportunity to meet together and talk about the crime, its aftermath and their future intentions. A trained facilitator is responsible to prepare the parties for this meeting and to help them as necessary in the course of the meeting.

Some states allow these restorative encounters to take place in prison. The experience can be life-changing, allowing the parties to move past the event that has defined their lives for so long and begin a new, more meaningful future. However, many states will not allow these visits, even when it is something that the victim has requested.

Where it works…

This year over 600,000 inmates will be released from prison. More than two-thirds will be rearrested within 3 years.

Where restorative justice is allowed to work, it has many benefits compared to ordinary criminal justice. It:

- substantially reduces repeat offending for many offenders,
- doubles the number offences brought to justice,
- reduces criminal justice system costs,
- provides victims and offenders with more satisfaction
- reduces crime victims' post-traumatic stress symptoms, and
- reduces victims' desire for revenge.

To hear the interview on NPR's "Talk Of The Nation" with Director Charles Oliver and Minnie Driver discussing Restorative Justice: click here.

To learn more about Restorative Justice, please visit

Why Forgive?

Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life.
- Joan Lunden

In the movie TAKE, Ana's forgiveness of Saul plays an important role in the healing of the victim and deeper repentance by the offender. Whether it is for a petty indifference or a violent crime, forgiveness can help a person let go of anger and resentment, and receive peace. This doesn't mean that the injustice is forgotten or cheapened, or justice mitigated. In fact, forgiveness emphasizes the personal harm done through a particular action. Rather, forgiveness is an important step on the road to restoring a broken person and often a broken relationship.

The site hopes that it can serve as a bridge in helping you move towards healing forgiveness; to experience wholeness again and have broken relationships restored. If you've been wronged or you've wronged another, use this site to reach out or simply create a moment to finally release yourself of harbored anger and resentment. We can't always forgive a person face-to-face; here is your chance to begin the healing process.

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