Monthly Archives: June 2013

Restorative Justice more Effective for Serious Crimes

As we’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, serious concerns exist with regards to use of restorative justice to address violent criminal offenses. Of the few restorative justice programs in existence across the U.S, the majority target juvenile offenders who have committed low-level, non-violent property crimes. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency which has implemented a restorative juvenile diversion program throughout Almeda County in Oakland, CA is one notable example.

In New Zealand however, where the use of RJ throughout the criminal justice system is widespread, new research has challenged the notion that RJ would be ineffective in addressing the harms caused by more serious crimes. In fact, the study claims that RJ may actually be more effective in helping victims heal and in reducing rates of reoffending in cases where the criminal offense is more serious in nature.

Highlights of this new research includes the following as reported by New Zealand’s Scoop Independent News:

Restorative Justice conferencing is more effective in cases of serious crime, particularly cases of violence, than in cases of property theft, or minor incidents. Overall, restorative justice conferencing, reduces reoffending by about 20%, with around 90% of victims registering satisfaction with the process, and indicating that it has helped them in the healing process.

A 2007 UK Ministry of Justice research concluded that there was a 27% drop in reoffending by those who experienced restorative justice across a wide range of offences from less serious juvenile crime through to adult robbery and serious assault, compared with those who took part in the usual criminal justice process.

A 2011 New Zealand research showed a 20% reduction in reoffending, and long term fiscal benefits arising out of 1,500 conferences of $7.6m for the public sector, and $9.9m for the private sector.

Read the full story here

Research on DV Intervention and Treatment is Desperately Needed

A recently published article in the Scientific American has revealed that increased training for doctors and other healthcare professionals is key to identifying victims of intimate partner violence. Unfortunately however, professionals often lack the tools needed to help such victims and their families end or escape the violence they are experiencing.

“More than one in three women and more than one in four men fall prey to stalking, rape or other physical or psychological violence by a partner at some time in their lives. Despite these grim statistics and evidence that victims can end up suffering mental and physical health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, health professionals have yet to nail down the best way to stop the abuse—which they call “intimate partner violence”—and to care for those affected by it.”

Read the full article here

Discipline Reform in NYC Schools

Hilary Lustick, a former high school English teacher in Brooklyn and current member of Teachers Unite, provides important insights regarding the discussion of punitive disciplinary measures in schools. Based on her past experience as an educator, in addition to information gathered through interviews with New York City teachers, Lustick contends that discipline reform is desperately needed and restorative justice offers a viable solution.

Just Restoration vs. “It’s Just Policy”: What Will it Take to Truly Reform School Discipline?

Save Our Streets: Alternatives to Violence Intervention and Prevention

SOS-Crown-Heights
Between 2010 and 2012 The Center for Court Innovation evaluated the efficacy of the Save Our Streets (SOS) project to combat gun violence in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood. SOS is a remarkable community-based organization which has developed an innovative approach to dealing with gun violence. Using outreach workers to target high risk individuals–namely, those who are at risk of either perpetrating or falling victim to gun violence–SOS has had a significant impact on rates of violence in the community. SOS outreach workers also engage in violence interruption–a strategy used to identify and mediate conflicts which have the potential to erupt in gun violence. The study concluded through monthly analysis of gun violence in Crown Heights that overall, violence dropped by 6%, while 3 comparison neighborhoods saw an increase in gun violence by 18% to 28%

This is an inspiring story for anyone who is interested in restorative justice. Specifically, the work of SOS supports the idea that violent behavior is not inevitable and that change is possible without punitive punishment. By focusing on the individual and providing support to both (potential) victim and offender, SOS has effectively prevented future acts of violence from taking place.

To learn more about SOS, visit their website by clicking here. Information about the specifics of their anti-violence program model can found here.