• Restorative justice has been receiving a lot of attention lately, due to Paul Tullis’s January 4 New York Times Magazine article, “Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?

    This story about a restorative justice conference following the murder of a young woman by her boyfriend was also covered on the January 5 episode of the Today show, “Parents who forgave their daughter's killer: It 'frees us'.”

    Both the Times and the Today stories do their audience a disservice by dwelling on forgiveness as the apparent reason for restorative justice. Forgiveness is neither an expectation nor a goal of restorative justice. Forgiveness may


  • Howard Zehr, distinguished professor of restorative justice at Eastern Mennonite University, sent a note of response to some of the negative responses by restorative justice advocates to the NYTimes Magazine article that appeared a few weeks ago. He writes:

    The responses by restorative justice advocates to the NYT article on justice and forgiveness are partly a result of some errors in the story and to things that were left out. Readers may be interested in this interview about the case with Sujatha Baliga who facilitated the case. And if it's helpful to know, I was the one that connected Sujatha to the families and advised behind the scenes along the way. There are of course many skilled facilitators for serious violence dialogues. What this case required at the pre-plea stage was an experienced attorney rooted in restorative justice. Sujatha ended up also being the facilitator because the families insisted on it.

  • Marilyn Armour and Stephanie Frogge, restorative justice practitioners, respond the the New York Times Magazine's story a few weeks ago that told the story of a restorative conference for the families of both victim and offender after a young man murdered his fiance. They write:

    As restorative justice practitioners, our initial reaction to the article was one of jubilation. “A piece about restorative justice in a major newspaper … they like it, they really like it!” But our excitement quickly dimmed.

  • In this piece, a mother discusses how she talked to her kids about Lance Armstrong and his admission that he used drugs to enhance his cycling performance to repeatedly win the Tour de France. Knowing that restorative practices are used in her children's schools in San Francisco, Amy Graff floated the idea of using restorative practices with Lance and her kids took the bait. She writes:

    At the dinner table the other night, I posed this question to my family.

    My husband, a cycling enthusiast who’s passionate about the sport, shared, “I’m never forgiving him. The guy ruined the sport.”

    “I forgive him, Mommy,” my son said with a smile.

    “No way!” was my daughter’s gut reaction.

    “But at school you’re taught to forgive your schoolmates,” I pointed out to my daughter. “How would you be asked to approach this situation at school? Would you forgive him on the school playground?”

  • Photo by Michael Glasgow at Flickr Creative Commons

    Mikhail Lyubansky at Psychology Today posted this letter submitted by Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) to Vice-President Joe Biden's office in reference to his Task Force on Gun Violence. In addition to recommending a ban on assault weapons, the group makes two recommendations relating to restorative


  • Last week I posted links to a story about restorative justice used in a murder case. Subsequently on the Restorative Justice International LinkedIn group Lisa Rea, president of the Justice and Reconciliation Project, posted a link to a piece from five years about another such instance. Rea and Cheryl Ward-Kaiser, a woman whose daughter was raped and husband murdered in front of her eyes, discuss Ward-Kaiser's quest to meet the perpetrators of the crime and restorative justice in general during this half-hour segment from National Public Radio. Listen here.

  • Les Davey, director of IIRP UK & Ireland, writes:

    In partnership with the City of Salford, IIRP UK & Ireland are pleased to announce their Summer 2013 Conference: "Restorative Practice: The way forward in Salford" to be held at Salford City Stadium, Manchester, on Thursday, 20th June 2013.

    We are pleased to announce that Transforming Conflict is collaborating with us in planning a workshop stream. Both organizations are exploring closer collaboration where possible, as we share so many core values, principles and practices. This event will replace Transforming Conflict’s annual conference "Restorative Approaches in Educational and Care Settings" Conference for this year.

  • Here's a 48-minute video produced by Heartspeak Productions with the Community Justice Initiatives Association from the Fraser region of British Columbia. The film discusses Canadian law and constitution and human rights as a fundamental basis of law. The film examines the effectiveness of punishment and deterrence, as well as alternatives including restorative justice and diversion. It argues that restorative justice can fulfill the human rights obligations embedded in Canadian law and also be more effective. While this film focuses on the Canadian system, there are many ideas that will be relevant to law and criminal justice in other countries.

    The video can also be found at the following link:
    Restorative Justice is the LAW | CJIBC.

  • This article recounts a great story in which a restorative circle was used to address conflict with about 20 girls in an alternative school in Maryland. Joe Burris of the Baltimore Sun writes:

    It began as many confrontations between students do: with a hard stare between two passing strangers, according to Toni Holmes, a senior at an Ellicott City alternative school. One of the girls told a friend, "I don't like her." Snide remarks about clothing and appearance went back and forth, and then other girls chimed in.

    Soon, unexplained yet simmering enmity exploded into a series of face-to-face confrontations among about 20 girls at the


  • Presentations from the IIRP UK & Ireland 2012 Conference in Swansea, Wales: “Putting Theory into Practice: The Restorative Way”

    Following up from the IIRP UK & Ireland 2012 Conference in partnership with City and County of Swansea: “Putting Theory into Practice: The Restorative Way” at Liberty Stadium, on Thursday 29th November, below are links to PDF files of the Plenary and Workshop Presentations submitted by presenters so far.

  • Students with Dignity in Schools t-shirts ushered into an 150-person overflow room, which would also fill up

    The Washington Post's Donna St. George reported on the Senator Durbin's "School-to-Prison Pipeline" hearing in the US Senate last week. The article begins:

    At a congressional hearing billed as the first-ever focused on ending the “school-to-prison pipeline,” Edward Ward emerged as a voice of experience.

    Ward, a recent high school graduate from Chicago, recalled


  • This Wednesday evening, December 19th, at 5pmPST/8pmEST, The Peace Alliance presents a free hourlong program with Steve Korr, an IIRP instructor, as part of its "Restorative Justice Telecouncil Series." Registration for the telecouncil will also get you access to the program archive which is in its second year. The teleseries is hosted by Molly Rowan Leach.

  • For this Sunday's video I'm posting a short video of youth leader Edward Ward's testimony during the Senate's "School to Prison Pipeline" hearing convened by Senator Dick Durbin Wednesday afternoon. Ward is 20-years-old and the organization he represents, Blocks Together from Chicago, is a member of the Dignity in Schools campaign,which had a heavy presence at the hearing.


  • As part of its journey to become a "restorative city," Wanganui, New Zealand recently hosted "Associate Professor at the Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law, and a director of the Nova Scotia Restorative Justice Community University Research Alliance in Canada, Professor Llewellyn... to speak to members of the Whanganui Restorative Practices Trust, local lawyers and the Wanganui District Council."

    This is according to Merania Karauria for the Wanganui Chronicle. The piece, titled "A crusader changing the way we relate to people"


  • To follow up on Friday's post, there's this piece from the New York Times by Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. She begins by relaying a tragic story of a student with Asperger's syndrome who is roughly arrested in school for an offense which amounts to "contempt of cop." His is not an isolated case, just one of 882 arrests in New York City public schools during the 2011-12 school year.

    The entire piece is interesting, but I would note this passage:

    In New York City, the Police Department has a special unit to


  • A recent blog post at EdWeek by Sarah Sparks points to a new research study, to be published in the January 2013 issue of the Sociology of Education, which demonstrates a link between teenage arrests and school pushout:

    While 64 percent of Chicago students who were never arrested eventually earned a high school diploma, the graduation rate for students who had been arrested was only 26 percent. Similarly, only 16 percent of students with an arrest record eventually enrolled in a four-year colleges, compared with 35 percent of students with a diploma or GED who avoided the legal system. Arrested students were also more likely to have missed school, failed a grade, or been identified for special education, even though the researchers found little


  • I'm sensing a lot of vibrant discussion going on in the UK about how to reinvent the justice system to include a lot more restorative justice (see recent post here.) Here's the latest example via RJ Online which has published excerpts from a piece by Lawrence Kershen writing for The Law Society Gazette:

  • I posted about this a couple weeks ago, but here now from the Guardian is their own wrap-up of what the expert panel had to say during an online discussion about restorative justice.

    Restorative justice: live discussion roundup | Social care network | Guardian Professional.

  • The following comments are excerpted from Theo Gavrielides's blog piece, titled "The McDonaldisation of a community-born and community-led ethos: Reflections on the restorative justice week past." These comments were presented  in the context of wrestling with questions of how governments – particularly in light of new policy initiatives to implement more restorative justice for adults in the UK – might avoid the watering down of restorative justice which ultimately belong to communities. The entire piece, which I recommend reading, can be found here.

  • CoSA, Circles of Support and Accountability are a restorative practice for working with sex offenders which began in Canada in 1994. Now some in Bermuda, according to this article, would like to see the practice introduced there.

    Bermuda’s justice system is due for change in its approach to cases of sexual abuse, according to children’s