Another day, another restoration.
Saturday’s issue of The Guardian features an interview (<— it’s important that you click here) with a crime victim and the chemically-dependent man who burglarized her home. As the reporter points out, this interview occurred after both parties had participated in Restorative Justice processes. Although victim-offender conferences are a central part of the process, the peacemaking circle at the heart of the process is much more comprehensive and intensive, involving family members, representatives of the local community and the justice system.
The fact that this Guardian interview could take place at all is testament to the successful outcomes available through restorative processes.
In the U.K., the Ministry of Justice is in the midst of major reforms. One of those reforms will be an increased reliance on restorative principles. A Green Paper focusing on addiction quotes a former inmate describing his experience with the process:
“I was in prison waiting to be sentenced. I was asked to meet some people face-to-face who I had burgled to get money for drugs. I only did it to get out of the cell for an hour, I thought it would be easy. But it was different. When you hear about the damage you have done, when you feel the harm you have caused, you have to be a very, very bitter and twisted person for this not to affect you. I have had easier days at the Old Bailey.”
Peter Woolf, rehabilitated repeat offender in testimony to the Centre for Social Justice
“Old Bailey” is the Central Criminal Court in England, named for the street in which it stands. It is a court building in central London, one of a number of buildings housing the Crown Court. The Crown Court sitting at the Central Criminal Court deals with major criminal cases from Greater London and, in exceptional cases, from other parts of England and Wales.
In a terse summation of the case for reform, the authors of the Green Paper conclude:
“Restorative Justice is over-researched and under-utilised. It is proven to be highly effective in increasing victim satisfaction levels and reducing . . . re-offending. To begin to put rehabilitation at the heart of the prison system we will introduce Restorative Justice Conferences to enhance justice for victims and begin the process of life change for prisoners.”