People who have a clean record but who are caught shoplifting are being offered a choice by Wal-Mart’s security staff: They can admit guilt and pay $400 to take an online “restorative education” course; or the police will be called.
Offenders unable to pay the money up front have the option of paying $500 for the course in installments.
If the offender fails to pay the fee or finish the online class, Wal-Mart forwards its record of the crime to the police, who have agreed to press charges based on that information.
Dubbed the “Restorative Justice Program,” the new plan replaces a program designed by the Joplin Police Department to reduce officer visits to big box stores. A spokesman for Wal-Mart said that “Restorative Justice” would also serve to reduce police calls.
The high volume of shoplifting-related calls from large retailers poses a challenge to the department’s mission of patrolling the entire city, not just a few parking lots.
It has been almost 25 years, but Misty Wallace still tears up when she talks about the day in mid-October 1992 that she thought she would die. Now, Wallace is a soft-spoken but determined mother and wife who wears her blond, wavy hair in a no-nonsense ponytail that highlights her patient face. Back then, she was only 18 and a high school senior looking forward to attending college on a softball scholarship to study nursing, hoping to just “enjoy life and live life.”
“It was my year, my time,” she said.
Wallace recalls fighting with her boyfriend earlier that night, dropping him off, and thinking, “I wish I was dead.” The memory stuck with her because of what happened later.
She stopped to call her parents from a pay phone in an Indianapolis Burger King parking lot on her way home from visiting haunted houses with friends when a man approached her and asked if she was done with the phone. She told him that she was and hung up the phone, and the man shot her in the side of her face and jumped into her car. She says she will never forget the “calm look on his face, like he really wanted to use the pay phone.”
“Please help me,” Wallace called out. But her assailant left her on the ground, bleeding and in pain, her ears ringing from the shot, her face burned from the gunpowder.
Lying beneath the front wheel of her blue Mustang, by the phone booth, Wallace prayed that the car wouldn’t start. It didn’t. The assailant fled, and a stranger on his way home from work stopped to help Wallace, saving her life.
After multiple surgeries, Wallace remembers being in a hospital room, surrounded by her family members, who were in tears. “The hardest part,” she said, “was that I knew something was really wrong. I didn’t know what…. I said good-bye. I grabbed their hands so they knew I cared.” Wallace was still unable to speak. “That’s when I realized I could die at any point,” she said, wiping her eyes at the memory.
Her assailant was Keith Blackburn, who was also 18 and, as he puts it now, in trouble with gangs and drugs, quickly sliding downhill with no end in sight. He had once tried to shoot himself in the head and was saved only because his nine-year-old nephew leaped toward him and pushed him so that the gun shot a glass sliding door. That night, he had been on a robbery spree with his friends and needed a getaway car. So he decided to shoot Wallace and take her Mustang. The crime was wholly impersonal, just a means to an end.
RELATED: When a Policy Alone Is Not Enough
“For a long time, I denied what I had done,” he told me. He felt about the shooting as he would about a dream, even though he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempted murder. When asked what motivated him to change, he said that after he realized he didn’t want to spend his life behind bars, a fellow inmate told him to “change his nouns—the people, places, and things.” After that, Blackburn was transferred from his solitary cell to a group dorm, where he met a man who discussed passages from the Bible with him and made him rethink his relationship to himself and the world. He began to take responsibility for his crime and realized what he had done and how many people he had hurt.
She made the brave decision to meet with Adam while he was in prison, facilitated by a restorative justice service, and forgave him for his part in the crash.
Adam Hill, who lives in Lincoln, said: “As soon as I was convicted I requested that I speak to the girls to apologise to them.
“It was only really after the first police interview that I realised I was culpable for it. I had no recollection of the actual crash.
Rob Duke's insight:
This kind of victim is particularly well-suited for RJ....but that may be because of his previous social standing and a profound desire to be reintegrated. Those who were already ostracized may still be good candidates--even if they don't at first agree.
13% of all black men are denied the right to vote because they have been convicted of a felony.
Felon disfranchisement, as this phenomenon is called, is a stain on our democracy left by laws intended at their inception to prevent newly freed slaves from participating in the political process. Black people, just 12% of the U.S. population, comprise 38% of those denied their voting rights because of a felony conviction.
Rob Duke's insight:
Alaska needs a system to reduce a felony after a suitable amount of time (end of probation/parole, plus a year or two of "clean" living)....judicial review can ensure that these rights are restored to only the deserving....
Focus on the face. The next time you ask an important question in a negotiation, focus on your counterpart’s face for at least four seconds, instead of just listening to the words coming out of his or her mouth. Tell a story. Negotiators have an easier time controlling their expressions when they’re talking. So don’t ask too many open questions. Instead describe what you want or share an anecdote about another negotiating partner who shared concerns similar to theirs and watch how they respond as they listen. Their guard will lower a little and you’ll be able to see their honest reactions to what you’re saying — knowledge to guide the rest of the conversation. Present multiple options. As you present a list of choices to negotiating partners, their microexpressions will reveal which they like and which they don’t, sometimes even before they’re consciously aware of their preferences. Watch closely to see what their face tells you about each option.
After receiving a number of calls from parents of young adults who are addicted to drugs, asking whether they can force their child into treatment against their will, the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws found it is possible to do so in 37 states—if strict guidelines are met.
SHEBOYGAN, Wis. - The Netflix documentary series "Making a Murderer" drew national attention to the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach. Steven Avery was convicted of the murder, and Avery's nephew, Brendan Dassey, who was 16 at the time, was tried and convicted in adult court of helping Avery commit the crime.
PHOENIX - Fees and fines within the juvenile-justice system place an unfair burden on low-income families, according to a new report. In some states, the Juvenile Law Center report found, because of failure to pay, young offenders miss out on diversion programs that would allow them to remain at home, and parents can be held in contempt of court or lose their driver's license. Report co-author Jessica Feierman, the center's associate director, said these families often face gut-wrenching decisions.
An inmate describes his struggle to come to grips with the aftermath of a terrible crime—and the tragedy he inflicted. Corrections authorities could encourage the process with restorative justice practices, he writes.
The incarcerated men were lead facilitators for several self-help programs that enable participants to deal constructively with anger, criminal thinking, victim awareness, early childhood trauma, and lack of education.
Two prisoners recently transferred out of Pelican Bay after spending a combined 36 years in its Security Housing Unit (SHU) were in the audience. Each said they were impressed and looking forward to this opportunity for rehabilitation for the first time in their incarceration experiences.
“I grew up around a lot of violence and a broken family,” said Chris Gallo, describing how he gravitated to a criminal element of “skinheads” and committed “many acts of violence,” adding, “I’m not proud of that.
“I began to see things differently after attending a Restorative Justice seminar,” Gallo said. “When I was there, I kept my head down, not looking at the person speaking. However, the speaker said something that really connected with me. When I looked up, I saw an African-American man talking about everything I went through. I began going to the sessions, and today, me and that guy, Darnell ‘Moe’ Washington, are best friends.”
The dream of a place at the Rio Olympics is for sports people the pinnacle of their career, but imagine having that aspiration shattered by a horrific car accident. That is what happened to Kate Hunter from Lincolnshire after the car she was travelling in was hit by a dangerous driver, which left her with life changing injuries.
In November 2015, nearly two years after the accident, Kate was able to forgive the man who was driving the car, after she took part in a Restorative Justice programme, run by Restorative Solutions. Through the service, commissioned by the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones, facilitators were able to work with Kate and support her to meet the offender.
Suzanne McLardy, was the facilitator, she explained how she was able to support Kate.
“Kate really wanted the opportunity to meet Adam who was the driver of the car responsible for the accident. We had a number of meetings where I explained how the Restorative Justice process works and when she was ready, I arranged for Kate to meet Adam at HMP North Sea Camp. The meeting enabled Kate to express her feelings and address the anxieties she had”.
Kate Hunter’s mother Sue explains how the process has helped her daughter
“In the days that followed the court case she really struggled and expressed a wish to be able to write and/or meet with the perpetrator. I contacted the Restorative Justice Team at Lincoln who were really lovely and arranged to come to our home and discuss the process. Over the weeks that followed we had a number of meetings where the procedures were explained to us in great detail ensuring that my daughter was made aware of every eventuality in the process. This was done with kindness, empathy and compassion and made us feel very secure
Without the Restorative Justice system, this negative would never have become a positive and I believe it is vital people understand how important this system is and how it can help people move forward and give them peace of mind”.
As co-chair of the New York County Lawyer's Association's Criminal Justice Section, Bickford has an opportunity to address criminal justice issues. He organizes continuing legal education courses and forums on such matters as the plight of women in state prisons—including the impact of incarceration on their children—and the ethical implications of Brady, in which prosecutors must disclose evidence that is favorable to defendants. Another session Bickford held was on the emerging field of restorative justice, which attempts to go beyond punitive penalties to address the needs of crime victims, offenders and affected communities. It calls for victims to explain their suffering and loss due to the offender's actions, a process that calls for the participation of offenders, as well. In contrast, many similar cases going through criminal courts involve negotiations between attorneys without any discussion of the crime and its impact. "The humanity of the cases are sometimes lost because of the nature of the adversarial system, where cases are just processed as widgets," he said. "And everyone walks away without a sense of justice." Bickford also co-authored a report examining recent state legislation to overhaul the state's bail statutes. Working with the New York City Bar Association's criminal courts committee, he is participating in a study examining the city's efforts to divert the mentally ill from the criminal court system. The findings are expected this fall.
I think we're creating a false dichotomy. It's not vertical justice OR horizontal justice, but both. The vertical system ensures that offenders know there is an "END OF THE LINE", but gives those who are merely misguided a chance to exit the train before the worst happens to them.....
Thousands of petitions for domestic violence protection orders are filed in Anchorage each year. When once-lovers, friends and roommates feud in court, Magistrate Judge Suzanne Cole must decide who needs protection.
Almost one year after the announcement of an ambitious project to strengthen trust between citizens and law enforcement, Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen stood before members of City Council Tuesday evening to present a finalized plan for the Illumination Project. With a total of 86 strategies culled from public listening sessions, national studies, and police staff, Mullen stressed that this plan is just the beginning of something greater.
“We’re at a pivotal moment in our country as it relates to police trust and legitimacy, and to do nothing is not an option. It is not an option, and to engage in a journey that is challenging and risky and has the potential to inform generations to come has been our responsibility and, I think, one of the biggest honors I’ve ever had,” Mullen told City Council. “Tonight, I present to you this report. I hope you take a look at it and read it and understand that this is a bold and challenging effort that we’re about to undertake. What I would ask for you to do is as we undertake this, as the leadership of this community, I would ask for you to support us, to challenge us, to hold us accountable, just like I would ask the community to do. Because we told them 12 months ago that we would put something together that would make a difference in Charleston, and I really believe that has happened.”
The chief’s presentation was preceded by the citizens participation period of Tuesday’s council meeting, during which members of the public spoke on both sides of the proposed plan. Those in favor of the project said that they’ve seen a noticeable change in the discourse between police and citizens in their communities. On the other side, there were speakers who argued that the public must be weary of the Illumination Project being just a P.R. stunt and suggested that a true path to improvement would require spending less of the city’s money on law enforcement and investing more directly into the community. Charleston’s 2016 budget dedicated more than 51 percent or $82.2 million of the general fund operating budget to public safety, more than half of which went to police.
Rob Duke's insight:
This is a good example of James Buchanan's thesis that open and inclusive systems produce the best institutional arrangements. They may improve over time, but they're probably the best we can establish at this moment in time....
Researchers from three nonprofit groups that work on juvenile justice also found that Yuba, Kings, Sutter, Napa and San Joaquin counties have the highest rates of direct file and San Francisco has the lowest -- because there, all juveniles are granted a fitness hearing before a juvenile-system judge.
"What this highlights is that it's not being used consistently by prosecutors," said Maureen Washburn, one of the report's co-authors and a policy analyst for the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, "that it's being used kind of at the discretion of a prosecutor and doesn't align with rates of crime that are happening in that county."
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio is stepping up its efforts to reform the state's juvenile justice system and give troubled young people a second shot. The state announced $1.6 million in grants for nearly two dozen counties through the Department of Youth Services' Detention Alternatives and Enhancements Initiative. Coordinator Regina Lurry explains the money will be used to create evening assessment and reporting centers, crisis shelters, and respite services to help put young, nonviolent offenders on the right path.
SANTA FE, N.M. - Fines and fees within the juvenile-justice system can be crushing for families, according to a new report. According to the nonprofit Juvenile Law Center, young people who can't pay for alternative programs may do time when a wealthier offender may not.
After 16 years operating on the periphery of the justice system, an organization that brings together victims of crime and the offenders who wronged them is still going strong. Wellesley is one of 17 Greater Boston communities where Communities for Restorative Justice (C4RJ) does its work: providing a forum for victims, usually younger offenders, their respective support systems and the police to work through the crime, its impact and a path forward. “I just think we’re
That's significant, because ASPD has been linked with aggression, irritability, disregard for rules, disregard for other people, and dishonesty. It's a controversial diagnosis — broad, ill-defined, and overlapping heavily with other disorders like psychopathy. But there's reason to take it seriously. Twin studies suggest that genetics explain about half of the variance in ASPD diagnoses, and environmental factors the other half. And a new study has begun the task of identifying which genes are most likely involved in ASPD, with significant success. An international team of Finnish, American, British, and Swedish researchers examined data from the Finnish CRIME sample — a database of psychological tests and genetic material from 794 Finnish prisoners taken between 2010-2011. The findings of this study cannot be implemented for any prediction purposes, or brought into courthouses to be given any legal weight. Of the 794 prisoners, a full 568 screened positive for ASPD. By comparing that group's genetic material to a large control sample from the general population, the researchers identified a number of genes that may play a role in at least some ASPD cases. The study's results are interesting in and of themselves — advancing our understanding of ASPD from Genetics seem to play a role to These genes seem to play a role. This seems to be the first time researchers have made this leap with a personality disorder. But just as interesting are the concerns the researchers express about how their research might be misused. "The findings of this study cannot be implemented for any prediction purposes, or brought into courthouses to be given any legal weight," they write. In the past, claims about specific genes and violence have been — in the researchers' words — "misused" by prosecutors as evidence that defendants are violent. And as more studies like this one link specific genes to the potential for violence, that danger only grows.
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