Restorative Justice in Seychelles: Convicts come face to face with the victims of their crimes
Off the coast of Southeast Africa, the Republic of Seychelles, a country made up of 155 islands, is making history. The community has the smallest population of any African nation, approximately 90,000 people according to the U.S. Department of State, but has the highest percentage of prisoners per capita in the world, 0.87% of the population or 786 people. Where the prison system has failed, Father Volcere steps in to help bridge the gaps toward reintegration and forgiveness. He encourages “frank dialogue between the offender and the victims or their families” as a movement toward restorative justice. This hopeful method has given rise to forgiveness and understanding where none existed. Author John Lablache discusses university lecturer Luciana Lagrenade’s own experience with restorative justice, whose story is inspiring. After meeting with the man who murdered her cousin twenty-one years prior, she and her family felt forgiveness. Father Volcere believes that the inmates, many who have volunteered to try the process, are able to look at themselves as well as the victims differently, and are truly remorseful.
Lablache, John. “Restorative Justice in Seychelles: Convicts come face to face with the victims of their crimes.” Seychelles News Agency. Montagne Posée, Seychelles. 24 June 2014. Web. 27 June 2014. <http://www.seychellesnewsagency.com/articles/817/ Restorative+Justice+in+Seychelles+Convicts+come+face+to+face+with+the+ victims+of+their+crimes>.
Restorative Justice for Juveniles in Hong Kong: Reflections of a Practitioner
In this piece, Associate Professor Dennis Wong reflects on his experience growing up in Hong Kong, as well as his efforts towards the development of restorative justice in China. As a young boy, he often took to the streets to relieve his anger. He would occasionally shoplift from a snack cart with his friends up until his first year of high school. However, he ultimately realized that his behavior was wrong, and proceeded to purchase more snacks than he could eat from the cart as a method of reparation. Wong believes this molded him into the person he is today, an advocate for restorative justice practices. He recognizes that “schools have been putting a lot of emphasis on boosting academic results instead of on personality development.” Thus, he has made it his mission to increase restorative practices among juveniles in China. He translated the Canadian Victim Offender Mediation manual into Chinese in 2004, which enabled mediators in China to have a better understanding of current practices. He mentions that the “Chinese preference for mediation is deeply rooted in Confucian philosophy” and believes that one day restorative justice will become fully integrated into the juvenile system.
Wong, Dennis. “Restorative Justice for Juveniles in Hong Kong: Reflections of a Practitioner.” Building a Global Alliance for Restorative Practices and Family Empowerment, Part 3. New South Wales, Australia: International Institute for Restorative Practices, 3 March 2005. Web. July 2014. <http://www.iirp.edu/iirpWebsites/web/uploads/article_pdfs/au05_wong.pdf>.
Overhaul of prison system called for
Journalist Jess McAllen narrates the reformative journey of Paul Wood, a man from New Zealand who was sentenced to life in prison at the age of eighteen. When Wood was released from prison after eleven years for good behavior, he realized that “being locked up for years on end achieved little.” Wood’s story of determination is truly inspiring as he studied during his last years in prison and earned a PhD in psychology only six years after being released. Today, Wood works for JustSpeak, an organization that promotes prison reform. Through his work with JustSpeak, he is able to give talks about his experience and his ideas for the future of restorative justice. Wood hopes that restorative justice becomes “the norm.” He believes that he should not be the “exception to the rule” as a reformed offender. This article also mentions a report by JustSpeak released in June 2014: Unlocking Prisons, which urges New Zealand politicians to transform the criminal justice system. Since the report’s release, the criminal justice system in New Zealand has not yet changed, but the public’s view of the concept of prison reform is beginning to change dramatically.
McAllen, Jess. “Overhaul of prison system called for.” Fairfax Media. New Zealand, 22 June 2014. Web. June 2014. <http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/10186518/Overhaul-of-prison-system-called-for>.