My friend and colleague, Andrea Păroşanu, has recently finished a module on Restorative Justice for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. It is part of a larger series on criminal justice by the E4J initiative. It is a great resource for those looking to learn more about RJ or for materials to help them teach others. I was honored to have some of my case studies included in the course materials. Great work, Andrea!
Here is the description of the project provided by the UNODC.
Education plays a key role in preventing crime and promoting a culture of lawfulness that supports human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. The E4J initiative is developing a series of modules on crime prevention and criminal justice, which lecturers can use as a basis for teaching in universities and academic institutions all around the world. Addressing a broad range of criminal justice topics, the series will equip students with knowledge about the fundamental role that effective, fair, humane and accountable crime prevention and criminal justice institutions play in support of the rule of law and the promotion of peace. To increase their effectiveness, the modules will connect theory to practice, encourage critical thinking, and use innovative interactive teaching approaches such as experiential learning and group-based work. The modules will be multi-disciplinary and can be integrated in existing courses on criminology, law, political science, international relations, sociology, and many other disciplines. The broad range of examples used to elucidate the United Nations standards and norms on crime prevention and criminal justice means that the modules are relevant globally. The modules can also be adapted by lecturers to address specific local and cultural contexts, and the E4J Teaching Guide on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice will provide lecturers with additional guidance on teaching the modules across multidisciplinary settings.
Victoria University of Wellington is offering a free course through edX titled Restorative Justice and Practice: Emergence of a Social Movement. It is taught by three incredible instructors! For more information, see the video below and enroll here.
Read to the end of this article to learn more about an effective use of Restorative Justice to respond to shoplifting put in place by Longmont Community Justice Partnership.
A shoplifting solution billed as enlightened was ruled to be “textbook extortion”
Check out this video from Brave New Films!
“A survey of US crime victims’ attitudes towards crime and punishment just came out: among the interesting findings is that, by a margin of three to one, victims of crime believe that prison makes people more likely to commit crimes than to rehabilitate them, and that people should be held accountable through mechanisms other than prison.”
The Alliance for Safety and Justice recently released a report on victims’ views on safety and justice. The Alliance commissioned the National Survey of Victims’ Views to fill in gaps in knowledge about who crime victims are, what their experiences are with the criminal justice system, and their views on public policy. Overall, the results indicate that victims are far more concerned with receiving adequate support, preventative measures, and offenders being rehabilitated than with severe punishment.
I highly recommend reading the entire report here.
“Seven in ten victims prefer that prosecutors focus on solving neighborhood problems and stopping repeat crimes through rehabilitation, even if it means fewer convictions and prison sentences.”
This episode of the podcast Invisibilia, “Flip the Script,” is well worth a listen. The first two stories are about the power of responding to violence and hostility with love. The first story is about an attempted robbery at a dinner party and the second story is about how a Danish town helped young, frustrated Muslims turn away from ISIS. Both stories speak to the human need for belonging and offer a way for us to respond to wrongdoings not by punishing or causing further harm, but rather by embracing the wrongdoer and working towards the best outcome for everyone. This shift, this flip in the script, is at the root of Restorative Justice and is the most powerful and transformative tool available to our human community.
Listen to the podcast here.
A friend recently recommended a book called The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. The opening essay has this quote about empathy that I absolutely love.
“Empathy isn’t just remembering to say That must really be hard, it’s figuring out how to bring difficulty into the light so it can be seen at all. Empathy isn’t just listening, it’s asking the questions whose answers need to be listened to. Empathy requires inquiry as much as imagination. Empathy requires knowing you know nothing. Empathy means acknowledging a horizon of context that extends perpetually beyond what you can see.”
This quote speaks to the power of teaching Restorative Practices in schools and communities. In order to learn empathy, we must learn to ask the important questions, to approach each other with curiosity and humbleness. We must strive to understand the full picture.
In two weeks, a co-worker and I are traveling to Florida to present at the National Association of Community Restorative Justice Conference. We are presenting on three topic, including Partnering with Police in restorative justice organizations. Today, we met with the Chief of Police to interview him about his decision to partner the Police Department with restorative justice twenty years ago. He said a lot of great things, but one quote struck me as especially powerful and timely. He shared this insight directly after telling us about a Chief of Police conference he attended recently where he spoke about restorative justice and raised the question of whether police officers could be ambassadors of kindness and compassion in their communities.
“There are police departments on bended knee right now trying to figure out how to make different relationships with their community. More than ever, they are wanting to figure out new ways of doing business. Will we just be the hammer that comes down on people? Or can we be something else in our community? That question looms big now more than ever. The ground is fertile, the time is ripe, the window of opportunity is big now, so jump on it. Now is the time to bring all these things into play.”