In the Nevada prison system there is a program they call Victim Awareness the purpose of this is to give the victim a chance to meet face-to-face with the offender and discuss the crime. The offender has a chance to tell the family why he or she committed the crime and to apologize for the harm they caused. At the same time, the victim and/or their family gets a chance for a little insight into why their loved one was harmed. Then they have a chance to tell the offender how they feel and allow some of the anger and hurt out of their hearts. In the Restorative Justice Process, the victim is much more involved and the offender is encouraged to participate (Consedine, 2000).
The Restorative Justice Process gives the offender an opportunity to take responsibility for his or her action by repairing some of the damage he or she has caused the victim. The process includes apologizing to the victim or victims, working to return the monetary loss to the family (which could include the cost of a funeral), or even volunteering in the community (Restorative justice factsheet, 2012) The Restorative Justice program is a non-adversarial, non-retributive approach to justice that emphasizes healing of victims, meaningful accountability for offenders and the investment of citizens in creating healthier and safer communities (Restorative justice factsheet, 2012). The program gives emphasis to: Recognition of Harm
Reparation (Restorative justice factsheet, 2012)
The Restorative Justice is based on making contact between victim and offender in order to establish who has been harmed and what they need in order to heal and then find ways of addressing those needs. Restorative Justice is a process that utilizes collaborations and focuses on all the participants involved including the victim, offender and the community. (Restorative justice factsheet, 2012). In the case study, David and his friend walked up to Mildreds house one afternoon knocked, without an answer. These two friends made a decision to break into Mildreds home. As they entered the home, they immediately begun looking around for things that they could quickly and easily remove.
Not once did either of the boys think about how the resident would feel coming home to find that their home had been vandalized. (Ness 2009). Through personal experience, this writer knows how they felt; it is like being raped, ones very being has been violated. Possessions that may not ever be able to be replaced may have been broken or stolen. The boys never gave this a thought. This case illustrates the harmful effects the crime had on the victim. This crime affected not only the homeowners, but the family as well. Mildreds daughter and her husband began driving across town more often to check on Mildreds wellbeing. Mildreds daughter had a family and children of her own to take care of.
These extra trips became a hardship on her family, taking away valuable time the family needed to be with her. The community became concerned because as the story spread, fear instilled into the neighborhood. They feared the culprit would return and vandalize their homes. Children were affected, as they imagined bad people were in their neighborhood and became scared. (Ness 2009). David (one of the offenders) agreed to participate in a restorative justice program with Mildred, where he paid her restitution, and he made things right between Mildred and himself. He successfully completed the program, went on to college, became a coach of the community Little League Team and became a facilitator for the restorative circle (Ness 2009). Mildred became at ease once again through the support of her family and the restorative justice program. The support group helped to fix her house back to the way it was before the vandalism; her family checked on her daily and support group from the restorative justice program checked on her as well.
By being involved in the Justice Restorative Process and agreeing to meet with David, Mildred was able to express her feelings, and David was able to apologize and together they worked out a means of fixing the problem. The therapeutic process helped Mildred, as well as, a community to heal, by feeling safe knowing that David would not commit this crime again. If there had been a contemporary approach to this case the process, and outcome would have been different. The police would have taken a statement from Mildred. Once they caught David he would have been questioned, arrested, and subsequently he would have gone through the court process of preliminary hearing and trial. Once David was found guilty, the judge could have sentenced him to either probation, jail or prison time. If David had been imprisoned, then Mildred most likely would not have received restitution, nor would she have had the support that she received through the Restorative Justice Process. (Ness 2009). In the Contemporary method of justice, the victim does not have the support they need to heal. Whereas, the Restorative Justice process allows for completing a full circle in which all parties of the crime are involved The healing process for both the victim and the offender can begin as they work together to solve the problem.
Father Jim Consedine (priest of the Diocese of Christchurch in New Zealand and national coordinator for his countrys Restorative Justice Network) wrote a book, Restorative Justice: Healing the Effects of Crime (1995, 1999). In his book, Father Consedine explains that it had been found that retribution (contemporary) system of justice (which is based on punishment and vengeances) is counterproductive. In the contemporary system, the ex-offender will typically reoffend quickly. According to Father Consedine New Zealand has increasingly been moving toward a restorative system, one that aims at healing for both the victim and the offender. Our juvenile system is now 100 percent focused on restorative philosophy and practice (Consedine, 2000) In conclusion, as I reflect on this paper, it brings back memories (not so happy) of my situation.
I was arrested and imprisoned at a time before the courts recognized the Restorative Justice process or took it as a genuine alternative. There was no way that the victim could heal. Through the old contemporary way; the offender was not allowed to go near the victim, without the consequence of the potential more charges being imposed. I feel that the Restorative Justice Process makes more sense, especially for the first-time, non-violent offender. The process of Restorative Justice seems to a simple one. It is an acknowledgement by the offender of what he or she has done and an opportunity for the victim to face the offender and discuss the crime. This allows for a resolution that helps meet the victims needs, yet allows for the healing process to begin for both the victim and the offender.
Consedine, J. (2000, February 26). Interview by G.M. Anderson [Web Based Recording]. Restorative justice: Interview with Jim Consedine. The national catholic review. Retrieved August 3, 2014 from http://americamagazine.org/issue/277/article/restorative-justice-interview-jim-consedine Ness, D. V. (2009, October). A Story about RJ Citys Response to Crime, Victims and Offenders. RJ City: RJ City Case Study. (Copyright 2007 Prison Fellowship International). Retrieved August 3, 2014 and reprinted with permission from www.rjcity. Restorative Justice Factsheet. (2012, August 7). Government of Canada, Correctional Service of Canada, Communications and Citizen Engagement Sector, Restorative Justice. Retrieved August 3, 2014, from http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/restorative-justice/003005-0004-eng.shtml