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US dept of justice Restorative

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[Music] Welcome to the first national video conference on Restorative Justice [Anne Seymour] sponsored by the National Institute of Corrections. I'm Anne Seymour, your moderator for the next two hours. Joining me today are some very talented professionals from the fields of corrections, juvenile justice, criminal justice, and victim services. We regret the chief justice Robert Yazzie of the Navajo Nation Courts, could not join us today. And joining us from across America and Canada are about 20,000 viewers from 350 sites in all 50 states and Canada. We're glad you could join us today and feel confident that our shared experience will be valuable as we seek together to better define and understand restorative justice. I think there will be lots of opportunities for our panel to mix it up today as we get into the devil of the details in restorative justice, and there is also going to be opportunities for participants to interact with our panelists at designated points during today's discussion. We encourage you to call in your questions a little bit later in the program. The number to call in the United States is -- The number to call in Canada -- The fax number for both United States and Canada -- Restorative justice, many things to many people. It's been placed under the general umbrella of community justice by the National Institute of Corrections. It's also been called a new paradigm, reparative justice, and a balanced approach among other things. Let's take a look now at a videotape produced by the National Council of Churches that offers an overview of restorative justice. [Music] Hello, I'm Jim Hartz. Our criminal justice system works in courtrooms like this to answer three basic questions. What laws were broken? Who broke them? And how should we punish the lawbreaker? The system is well-designed to answer those questions but if justice means restoring peace to our communities, then the system is failing. Failing because it is unable to make our streets safe, or reduce the fear that many live with daily. Failing because fear often leads victims to seek revenge, and revenge to most victims means prison. But prison has proved ineffective as a way to reduce crime and fear. In the United States, we now hold more people in prison than ever before. Yet crime and fear are still rampant, and the cost of building and operating more and more prisons is bankrupting other vital public policies. [Music and singing] NARRATOR: Out of the faith community came a growing concern that justice as retribution or revenge is not only failed policy but also conflicts with basic beliefs. So from the faith community, from the academic world and victim advocates, from police and correction officers, and officers of the court who have seen the failures of retributive justice, a new way of thinking is beginning to emerge. It's called restorative justice and it asks one basic question: How do you make victims of crime, offenders, and their communities whole again? Victim and offender meeting face to face to resolve the hurt -- that is restorative justice. Men serving time by cutting firewood to provide fuel for the poor and earning back a place in their community -- that is restorative justice. MAN ON RIGHT: No, I'm trying to get into junior-- An ex-offender having learned from his mistakes helps an at-risk teenager-- that is restorative justice. LETTER WRITER: I'm writing you this letter to let you know how very sorry I am for hurting you. NARRATOR: The obligation for offenders to say they are sorry -- that is restorative justice. With retributive justice the courtroom is a battleground. The stake over here fights to establish guilt and the defense over there tries to beat back that challenge. The community represented by the judge and the jury declares a victor. But one important party is missing. The victim. Victims are seated behind a barrier separated from the action. If they are involved at all, and that is by no means certain, it is to assist the state. They have no real voice in the outcome. Victims rarely have anyone to even listen. This isolation leaves victims confused, angry, and fearful, and often in pain. WOMAN: He died in the bed and... And the other... ...fellow left him laying there all night. NARRATOR: Unlike our present justice system, when restorative justice is practiced the victim is central. There are a wide range of measures designed to help the victim become whole again. It starts with someone who will listen. WOMAN: We need these answers. Some, some closure, it's just... It's just like an open wound unless you can find out the answers. NARRATOR: There are many ways to include victims in the justice system and many levels of involvement, from simply listening to their pain to face-to-face mediation, involving the victim is at the heart of restorative justice. Many in the restorative justice movement acknowledge that there are some people who must be confined to protect society and themselves, but prison is not the only answer and for most offenders, it's not the best answer. If our justice system has failed victims, it has failed offenders too. Men and women who serve time by working for the community can sometimes hold regular jobs, which reduces the financial burden on their families. They are under supervision 7 days a week 24 hours a day, and are tested for drugs and alcohol. Any money they earn goes first to pay restitution to their victims. Proponents believe that communities are actually safer when offenders are given a chance to earn their way back. Still many political leaders continue to call for more prisons and longer sentences. They seem more willing to embrace slogans than solutions. We now have more than 1.5 million people in our prisons and if allowed to continue the enormous cost of warehousing these people could bankrupt the nation. Justice has become a county or a state or even a federal government function but historically justice was a local issue. When one member of the community harmed another, the community provided the response. Restorative justice seeks to return that power to the community. Restoring power requires people to reengage themselves in the affairs of their neighborhoods. Community policing is really just a program of back to the future. You know in the old days when I was a child I did my share standing on the corner and there was police officer out there, we all knew him, he all knew us. There was a relationship, a partnership, between the police department and the citizens, and it was not born out of just a crisis situation, it was born out of the knowledge that we had to work together to keep the bad people out of the community. The scales of our retributive justice system are balanced in favor of revenge and punishment. The whole process is weighted toward the offense and the offender Restorative justice tries to bring some balance back into the system. You can see restorative justice is real, it's not merely a fanciful notion. The principle is at work today in hundreds of alternative sentencing projects, in thousands of victim offender mediations. It's most often applied to young nonviolent offenders, but restorative justice has also proven effective in every type of criminal proceeding. Restorative justice is not a panacea. It can't solve the social issues that underlay crime. It can't eliminate the ravages of drugs and addictions. It can't end racism and hatred. But it does lead to a new and more positive direction. It puts a human face on victims and offenders. It works to make people and communities whole, rather than split them apart. And it offers the hope of redemption, not only for the offender, but for the whole human family. So, panel members, what do we think of this film? [Sharon] Well, I'd like to take the lead here on this because there were a couple things in the film that I think were emotional words that I want to address right off the top, for crime victims. You know, I really like the restorative justice model because it puts the victim in the center of the system. But I think this film, for example, used the word "revenge," used "restoring victims," used "making people whole." And I think there's a problem with that, that that can be offensive to crime victims, because you can't always make people whole, particularly in homicide cases. I think the stereotype of revenge is really a problem. Victims don't want revenge; what they want is justice. And I think that we need to really look at what do victims want? They want information, they want a voice, they want their stuff back. So it's not revenge of an eye for an eye, but we would like a VCR back for a VCR. I thought it was interesting they showed firewood and the offenders cutting firewood and providing that, I guess, to victims and also to people in the community. But if you had your TV stolen, getting a cord of firewood, I guess you'd get to watch a blazing fire. You don't get to watch your favorite program. I think you need to make sure that if you're going to do public service of firewood that's great, but that goes to restore the community, to make some money to pay the restitution. But I think we need to make sure that the kind of activities offenders are going to be involved in is also related directly to the behavior and to how they've harmed another person. [Anne Seymour] Now you might be asking why is the National Institute of Corrections sponsoring this video conference. Well, we know that today in the U.S. over $30 billion is spent annually to lock up offenders and supervising them in the community. But are we getting the desired results? Are we getting justice for the substantial investment of taxpayer dollars? What else can be done to meet the demands of the public for safety? How can we better serve victims and communities? Can offenders be held truly accountable? And can these questions be answered with solutions that provide a balanced approach to justice? So many questions, and yet we believe today we can offer some important answers by covering 10 key issues. Let's start with "What is restorative justice?" Is it a principle or process? Program or policy? Can we define here today exactly what it is? [John] I think we have to be reluctant to do that. And acknowledge that it's... although not new, we certainly haven't had a lot of recent experience with it. And we have to allow its evolution, and the expression of it is bound to almost given its nature, to evolve over time. Having said that, I think we can agree that it's a dispute or conflict resolution process that's victim and community focused. And that, that ultimately it's less adversarial than what we're accustomed to and far more collaborative. [Anne] Good. Good. Denny Maloney -- panacea or pipe dream? Is restorative justice another flavor of the week? [Mr. Maloney] You know I really think it's an ancient idea whose time has come. If you look at justice practices throughout human kind, there really has been a tendency and a preference to allow people to mediate over a problem, reach an agreement that the wrong-doer pay back to the victim, extend an apology and try to prove that they can remain in the community and not commit that offense again. We see this evidenced as early as the Code of Hammurabi it's in many Old Testament themes, it finds its way into the New Testament themes Certainly in this nation, the Native American preference has always been of a restorative nature, very hesitant to banish, if you will, as a first response, unlike some of our preferred practices. So, I think it's an idea that has been around a long time. We have people among us we can learn from [end video]

Video Details

Duration: 15 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 71
Posted by: atrctech on Nov 3, 2010

US dept of justice Restorative

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