Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice
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Arbitration Case To Be Heard By US Supreme Court May Strip Citizens’ Rights | Justice News Flash | JusticeNewsFlash Release

San Francisco consumer protection attorney Eric Grover weighs in on a critical case that threatens to further dilute consumers’ rights by ending class actions
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Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice
Expanding the critical perspective of justice to suggest restorative processes and ADR as tools for reparation.
Curated by Rob Duke
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The “Recidivism Trap,” Or Why Measuring Failure Is the Wrong Way to Determine Whether Justice Policies Work |

The “Recidivism Trap,” Or Why Measuring Failure Is the Wrong Way to Determine Whether Justice Policies Work | | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it

When we look at how well or poorly a program or strategy in the criminal justice realm is working, the gold standard of assessment has traditionally been whether or not the strategy lowers recidivism rates.

Yet, in an intriguing new paper published this month, nationally regarded justice reform experts Jeffrey Butts and Vincent Schiraldi caution against falling into the “recidivism trap.”

When used as the sole measure of effectiveness, Schiraldi and Butts write, “recidivism misleads policymakers and the public…” and “focuses policy on negative rather than positive outcomes.”

Recidivism is not a comprehensive measure of success for criminal justice in general or for community corrections specifically, according to the two authors. When used to judge the effects of justice interventions on behavior, the concept of recidivism may even be harmful, “as it often reinforces the racial and class biases underlying much of the justice system.”

And that’s a big problem say Butts and Schiraldi.

Rob Duke's insight:
Measure instead: "desistance".  These are things that show a tendency towards more positive modes of living, like:

1. Getting older and maturing 
2. Family and relationships 
3. Sobriety 
4. Employment 
5. Hope and motivation 
6. Having something to give to others 
7. Having a place within a social group 
8. Not having a criminal identity 
9. Being “believed in”

So, given this, what changes could we make in our Justice System:

1. Insist That Recidivism Comparisons Involve Appropriately Matched Groups;
2. Use Other Measures to Assess the Effectiveness of Justice;
3. Increase the Policy Salience of Desistance;

Put another way, this is similar to that old illustration that firefighters present as the most basic fire education in school: the fire triangle.  Remember that on the three sides there was fuel, heat, and oxygen.  The idea was that if you take away even one of these, then the fire goes out.  This model is very similar at it's most basic level, because we know from research that crime is an intersection of economics, social disorganization, and maturity, thus this model seeks to bolster all three conditions by creating a sort of fire triangle matrix with employment, relationships, and maturity as the most basic factors that we seek to address.  This is a fundamental change from simply warehousing offenders in a punitive or incapacitation model waiting until they "age out" of crime.
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Rob Duke's curator insight, March 26, 10:50 AM
Measure instead: "desistance". These are things that show a tendency towards more positive modes of living, like: 
1. Getting older and maturing 
 2. Family and relationships 
 3. Sobriety 
 4. Employment 
 5. Hope and motivation 
 6. Having something to give to others 
 7. Having a place within a social group 
 8. Not having a criminal identity 
 9. Being “believed in” 

So, given this, what changes could we make in our Justice System: 
 1. Insist That Recidivism Comparisons Involve Appropriately Matched Groups; 
 2. Use Other Measures to Assess the Effectiveness of Justice; 
 3. Increase the Policy Salience of Desistance.

Put another way, this is similar to that old illustration that firefighters present as the most basic fire education in school: the fire triangle. Remember that on the three sides there was fuel, heat, and oxygen. The idea was that if you take away even one of these, then the fire goes out. This model is very similar at it's most basic level, because we know from research that crime is an intersection of economics, social disorganization, and maturity, thus this model seeks to bolster all three conditions by creating a sort of fire triangle matrix with employment, relationships, and maturity as the most basic factors that we seek to address. This is a fundamental change from simply warehousing offenders in a punitive or incapacitation model waiting until they "age out" of crime.
Dustin Drover's comment, March 31, 3:25 PM
This was a very unfamiliar and informative read. I never even thought about how changing what you measure as a way to change the out come. It seems as though all we care about is recidivism rates, which makes sense because it is a fundamental problem with our justice system. This article gave great insight to how we can change that problem by changing how we view and measure it. I like how they explained how measuring positive outcomes would inspire corrections staff to “to pay more attention to connecting clients with services, supports, and opportunities that facilitate desistance,” and I couldn’t agree more. When we focus on the bad things someone does we internalize our image of them as bad or “a lost cause”, but if we focus on their positive traits we also give them the feeling that someone believes in them. And when we feel that, we habitually want to do better because it means something.
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Alternative justice system now covers Mi'kmaq fisheries offences on P.E.I. | CBC News

Alternative justice system now covers Mi'kmaq fisheries offences on P.E.I. | CBC News | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
In a first for Atlantic Canada, the Mi'kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I.'s restorative justice system is being expanded to cover offences under the federal Fisheries Act.

The Confederacy, Lennox Island First Nation, Abegweit First Nation, Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) held a formal ceremony to sign the agreement on Tuesday. It builds on the MCPEI Indigenous justice program already in place.

There is a similar agreement on the West Coast, but this is the first agreement of its kind in Atlantic Canada.
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Teenage Vandals Were Sentenced to Read Books. Here’s What One Learned. - The New York Times

Teenage Vandals Were Sentenced to Read Books. Here’s What One Learned. - The New York Times | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
After they defaced a historic black schoolhouse with racist graffiti, they were ordered to read. Not all the authors were happy about this.
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The Opposite of D.A.R.E – DPA Launches New High School Drug Education Curriculum in a NYC School

The Opposite of D.A.R.E – DPA Launches New High School Drug Education Curriculum in a NYC School | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Safety First started out as a resource for parents to talk to their teens about drugs and has now evolved into a curriculum designed to be implemented in 9th and 10th grade high school health classes. It is based in the principles of harm reduction and consists of 14 interactive lessons covering how we define a ‘drug,’ how drugs work in the body, their effects, risks and benefits of five major drug classes, and the impact of drug policy on personal and community health.

Safety First is the culmination of almost 20 years of work in youth drug issues by DPA’s Dr. Marsha Rosenbaum, as well as many other DPA staffers. I am proud to have joined that group by guiding Safety First in its first real-world pilot and evaluation last month at Bard High School Early College Manhattan. For the first time ever in a U.S. public school, students are receiving a science and harm reduction-based education about drugs.
Rob Duke's insight:

We've long known D.A.R.E., though popular, wasn't effective at deterring drug use in kids.  Now there's a similar program that takes a different approach.

 

Now enrolling for Summer and Fall classes. Univ. of Alaska-Fairbanks:  Ranked online degrees in Justice (B.A.) and Justice Administration (M.A.).  The only Justice degrees built around the concepts of Restorative Justice.  Fully online and blended classes available:

uaf.edu/justice

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'She's not to be vilified': Utah trooper forgives motorist who struck him on side of the road

'She's not to be vilified': Utah trooper forgives motorist who struck him on side of the road | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Dashcam video shows the trooper flying through the air after he was hit.
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Dorothy R. Cook 's curator insight, March 28, 2:49 AM

Thank you Lord God for forgiveness of being wronged or harmed. Lord God Thank you Thank you for your ways are not our ways. 

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Dallas could be part of a smart way to bring ex-offenders back into life outside of prison  | Editorials

Dallas could be part of a smart way to bring ex-offenders back into life outside of prison  | Editorials | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Texas has worked hard to earn a reputation for being tough on crime. But sometimes the toughest part about curbing criminal behavior is fosterin
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Philadelphia Attorney Implements New Policies To 'End Mass Incarceration'

Philadelphia Attorney Implements New Policies To 'End Mass Incarceration' | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has spent a lifetime seeking justice as a civil rights attorney, and after being elected last November, promised to
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California’s Exploding Homeless Population Result of Failed Democrat Policies

California’s Exploding Homeless Population Result of Failed Democrat Policies | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
California's Exploding Homeless Population Result of Failed Democrat Policies, explosion of drug addicted, criminal, mentally ill, homeless, California's streets, AB 109, budget deficit, California, Democrats, Dr. Ben Carson, drugs, Government, homeless, homelessness, Jerry Brown,  Obama-Holder prison reform program, Prop. 47, Prop. 57, Sacramento
Rob Duke's insight:
Here's the danger with RJ at any cost.  With poorly conceived policy there has been unintended consequences that shift the costs of crime.  What we may see next in California, is a repeal of prop. 47 and a shift back to punitive practices.  This would be a shame and a setback to RJ across the U.S.
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California lawmaker says victims are denied the right to speak. | The Tribune

California lawmaker says victims are denied the right to speak. | The Tribune | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Like much of the country, I watched the emotional testimony unfold from the victims of disgraced U.S. Olympic Gymnastics sports doctor Larry Nassar. It is a powerful reminder of how we can give victims a chance to heal by speaking in court, face-to-face with the person who harmed them. The process of healing begins with victim impact statements.
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5 Things to Consider Before Posting Cops in Schools

5 Things to Consider Before Posting Cops in Schools | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it

1. We must clearly define roles. School Resource Officers perform many functions, including educator, mentor/informal counselor, and law enforcement officer. These functions vary by school environment and community needs. But one role the SRO should not play is that of enforcing school discipline. An SRO is sworn to uphold civil law, not enforce school rules. Communities should carefully consider how the role of the SRO differs from and complements that of the school security officer.

2. We need to make sure that we select the most appropriate officers to work in our schools. Recall that SROs work for the local law-enforcement agency from which they are assigned. They are partners with the school district, not the administrators’ personal 9-1-1 officers.

We should therefore pay close attention to candidates’ motivations to assume this role. Are they volunteering for the job or have they been assigned to it? Do they really want to help students and keep them out of trouble?

School and community members’ involvement in the process of interviewing and selecting the SROs can further clarify their roles and expectations.

3. We must make sure the SROs are adequately prepared to do their job. Anyone who works in schools should receive special training to better understand today’s young people and the problems they face. School Resource Officers’ training must be thorough, up-to-date, and go beyond standard training as a law-enforcement officer.

In addition to having basic SRO training, these officers should have access to specialized training in accordance with the specific expectations of the local law-enforcement/school/community partnership. That might include training in adolescent brain development, de-escalating threatening situations, mental-health awareness and how to make referrals, understanding special needs, or more. If the SRO is trained with members of the school community, everyone can be on the same page.

4. We should define policy for a stronger partnership. What is the policy that guides the partnership between school districts and law enforcement? An official memorandum of understanding (MOU) can clarify the duties and responsibilities of both the law enforcement and school partners so that the entire community understands the role of the SROs. This policy should include a clear statement that enforcing school discipline is not part of their job.

5. We must engage community partners. Keeping schools safe is the responsibility of more than just the education and law-enforcement partners. School/law-enforcement partnerships should identify and team up with other community partners that care about safe schools. For example, local mental-health providers may be able to offer supports to help students and their families when needed.

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How the justice center and a local artist are bridging the gap between teens, law enforcement - News 5 Cleveland

How the justice center and a local artist are bridging the gap between teens, law enforcement - News 5 Cleveland | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Community policing has been a hot topic and because of that, a local artist is teaming up with the Juvenile Justice Center to close the gap between the teens and law enforcement.
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Proposition 57 a debacle for Jerry Brown because of potential early parole for sex offenders - The San Diego Union-Tribune

Proposition 57 a debacle for Jerry Brown because of potential early parole for sex offenders - The San Diego Union-Tribune | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
California voters may have to clean up a mess they inserted into the state Constitution in 2016 at the governor's behest
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Americans Want Prison Reform. But Does Trump?

Americans Want Prison Reform. But Does Trump? | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
A poll released Tuesday by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation found widespread public support for rehabilitation efforts in local criminal justic…
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Shaylee Shocklee's comment, April 9, 5:00 PM
It is difficult to see what the true priority and agendas are for our presidential candidates until they get into office. Whether it's blatant dishonesty to appear for favorable to voters or the reality of the position makes their initial agendas impossible, there seems to be a general back and forth for most people on the topic of prison reform especially on the presidential level. I think being in contact with so many people who are or have been involved in some level of the criminal justice system in the past few years has really solidified my belief in prison reform, RJ, rehabilitation courses, job training, and other kinds of interventions as a better alternative or even in conjunction with the punitive process. This exposure has also helped me to further understand that the process is not and never will be black and white, nor can one size fit all offenders. I think the fear for things like RJ is that they require more investments with little immediate return, despite the reduction of recidivism and substance abuse in the long run, where as, in the traditional punitive system, although it is an expensive and lengthy process the offender are out of site and therefore out of mind.
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Tough love falls out of fashion in America’s schools - Discipline and punish

Tough love falls out of fashion in America’s schools - Discipline and punish | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
In the 1990s school districts began adopting strict “zero-tolerance” policies for even minor infractions. One young pupil was suspended for chewing his breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun; a nine-year-old was made to undergo psychiatric evaluation after threatening to use a rubber band to shoot a bit of paper at a schoolmate; a six-year-old was suspended for bringing a toenail-clipper to school.

Black pupils were nearly four times as likely to receive a suspension as whites in the 2013-2014 school year, the latest for which data are available. The same racial imbalances exist even for pre-school, where pupils are usually four years old or younger, and they have grown over time. The Obama administration issued guidelines noting that disciplinary policies could be racially discriminatory if they had a “disparate impact” on minorities—even if they were enforced even-handedly. This scared many districts into rewriting their rules to avoid a federal investigation.

Several complicating factors outside the control of schools, like the greater exposure of black children to poverty, crime and eviction, could account for their elevated rates of suspension and expulsion. One of the cleverest studies to try and assess actual racial bias used data on school fights between white pupils and black ones in the state of Louisiana, and calculated the differences in punishment. The authors found only a very slight disparity—the black pupils were suspended for an additional 0.05 days, compared with whites. The idea that there is a school-to-prison pipeline for young black boys, a phrase often used by reformers, is a bit shaky too. National statistics show that only 0.63% of public-school children are arrested at school or referred to the police.

Going exclusive

“It would be the easiest thing in the world to cut the suspension rate to 0% tomorrow,” says Jon Clark, co-director of the Brooke Charter Schools, a well-regarded network in Boston. But simply refusing to suspend misbehaving children would be damaging for their classmates, whose learning would deteriorate in the face of disruption, and for their teachers, whose jobs would be made much more difficult.

Yet many schools are already turning to less punitive schemes. One programme, called Positive Behavioural Interventions and Support (PBIS), tries to improve schools by explicitly teaching good conduct as though it were any other subject. Another strategy, known as restorative justice, does not take offending children out of the classroom but teaches them to acknowledge that others have been harmed by their actions and then to make a plan to put things right. Both approaches seem to result in better behaviour.

High-performing charters have often been criticised for their strict disciplinary codes, which detractors claim are used to force difficult children out, thereby improving scores. That criticism may be dated, as many charters have revised their policies to be less severe. “We don’t do militaristic discipline—one of our main themes is love,” says Scott Gordon, the CEO of Mastery Schools, a network of 25 charters in Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey, which uses restorative justice. Those who do misbehave are moved to a “peace corner” and then to a “restorative conference”.

KIPP charter schools, which acquired a reputation for excellent results and strictly regulated behaviour, has now relaxed its attitude. The network is “getting rid of its focus on detention and demerits” in favour of recognising “curiosity, grit and resourcefulness”, says Richard Barth, the organisation’s CEO. KIPP’s Philadelphia schools stopped using the “bench”, where misbehaving pupils were made to sit apart from classmates, in 2009, and has not expelled a pupil for several years, says Marc Mannella, the head of the regional office. Behaviour is kept in check in other ways. At KIPP Philadelphia Elementary, eight-year-old pupils practise centring themselves for the day ahead with a yoga session.

This article appeared in the United States section of the print edition under the headline "Discipline and punish"
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When an Email Exchange Turns Ugly

When an Email Exchange Turns Ugly | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it

It was Monday morning, and Lee opened his inbox to find an email from his manager: “Lee, I’ve decided to have Carlos present to the governing board, instead of you. I’m sure you’re good with this.”

Lee had spent the entire weekend preparing for the presentation. Not only did he know the numbers inside and out, he was also excited to get some face time with the board. Performing well would be a good move for his career. So, no, Lee wasn’t really “good with this.” He was crushed, defeated, and felt betrayed. But could he really say that in an email? And if he did, would anything change?

We’ve all had surprises like this show up in our email. I call them “email landmines.” Hidden among most of the safe emails we receive each day are a handful of digital doozies that quickly turn conversation into conflict.

Below are six categories of email landmines you’ve likely seen before. These seemingly innocent communications signal that an otherwise routine exchange is about to escalate.

Drive by: When someone uses email to make a demand or announce a controversial decision and hopes nobody responds. While it may be an honest mistake when there is ambiguity over who owns decision rights, it feels like the sender is intruding on your turf.
Drama dodging: When someone uses email to avoid the “people side” of a conflict. They’d rather interact with the keyboard than with a coworker. Again, many of us get so caught up in our tasks that we forget we’re dealing with people. But the end result of these emails is that the recipient often feels ignored or disrespected.
Wearing a wire: Using email as an underhanded way to get everything in writing, perhaps to create a sharable paper trail. This landmine may also include the naïve sharing of sensitive information that has no place in a written exchange.
Pontificate on a position: When someone lays out their arguments in excruciating detail so as to not have to deal with questions, disagreements, or interruptions. There’s a time and place to flesh out your logic in writing. But typically, email is not it. It can be infuriating to open an email to find a five-paragraph treatise.
Convenience mail: Using email because the alternatives would require scheduling a meeting, making a call, or simply getting up from the chair. We all make this error from time to time. After all, one of email’s most winning virtues is convenience. However, when you’re on the receiving end, these emails feel inconsiderate, unnecessary, and self-important.
Typed tirade: When someone launches an attack from the safety of their cubicle, saying things they’d never dare say in person. We’re all familiar with these because most of us have been guilty of doing it.
We can understand these landmines better if we look at them as dialogue disrupters. Successful email exchanges involve dialogue. We use the exchange to add to a pool of shared meaning. The more information we have in the pool, the better prepared we are to make decisions and get results.

These six landmines violate two important assumptions underlying constructive dialogue: mutual purpose and mutual respect.

Mutual purpose is the entry condition for a meaningful exchange of ideas. If you can’t align around what you’re trying to achieve, then you’re likely to end up with competition and strife. These email landmines signal a selfish focus, at the expense of common goals, that often shut down dialogue.

Mutual respect is the continuance condition for dialogue. Constructive conversation will cease if you show disrespect, disgust, or contempt for others. These landmines all signal some level of disrespect, and will prevent an honest exchange.

When mutual purpose or mutual respect is violated, people feel defensive, unsafe, or hurt. The temptation is to respond in kind, with an attack of your own. That’s how email exchanges escalate into unhealthy conflict. Luckily, there are strategies to handle these landmines.

Schedule a call. Don’t respond to the content of the email. Instead, reply and ask to schedule a call. Use a text message, if the issue is time-sensitive. “Got your email, let’s talk. Would 2 PM work for you?”
Meet face-to-face. An in-person meeting is the gold standard. Seeing each other’s faces while you talk is far more important than people realize. It helps you understand what others are thinking and feeling, as well as what they are saying. If that’s not possible, then use a video conferencing app.
Begin with purpose. Diffuse the negative tone by stating up front that you want a solution that works for all parties. This turns the debate into a dialogue where there are no winners and losers. “I’d like to find a solution that works for both of us. I think a conversation will help us get there.”
Demonstrate respect. You’ve already seen signals of disrespect. Counter them by declaring your respect. “I care about your concerns, and I value your opinion.”
Focus on facts. As you begin to discuss the content, avoid making judgments or stating conclusions. Instead, stick closely to the facts: details and data. Focus on any gaps between what you expected and what you observed.
Quickly check for understanding and agreement. At VitalSmarts, we call the beginning of any conversation “the hazardous half-minute,” because you’ve got only 30 seconds to state your case before asking for the other person’s point of view. If you talk for any longer, the other person will feel lectured to.
Email can be an efficient and convenient way to communicate. But when digital communication leads to conflict and slow decision making, it’s time to get out from behind the screen and have a dialogue.

Rob Duke's insight:

On either end of my career, I had bosses that would send me what I would "affectionately" call "letterbombs".  The first one would leave these in my mail box and they'd be outrageous propositions or orders.  These culminated with a demand to void a citation for a friend of the mayor, which I refused to do.  This resulted in him throwing the citation across the desk at me and telling me to void it if I knew what was good for me (I can say LOL now, but it was tense at the time); which, I unwisely countered with a threat to drag said boss over the desk and arrest if he ever threatened me again (he was a big guy and I was a big guy, so it was an equal exchange).  He didn't get me then, but within about 8 months, he'd soured the council against me and I, unhappily, left the job.

I asked another Chief of Police what he'd have done in this situation and he said, "Listen, you have to know what battles to fight.  I worked there for several years and I would have just paid that ticket myself and avoided the whole issue."  I have to say that that was not a very satisfying solution.

Over the years, I developed a style where I sat on my emotions more and learned to ask questions that identified the issues involved so that we could mutually explore alternatives that still satisfied our conjunctive interests.  So, by the time I was faced with another situation like the first, I had the tools to defuse these bombs rather than have them explode in my face.  This article gives a great set of tools to do this.

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Nonviolent Communication - Wikipedia

Nonviolent Communication - Wikipedia

Nonviolent Communication (abbreviated NVC, also called Compassionate Communication or Collaborative Communication) is an approach to nonviolent living developed by Marshall Rosenberg beginning in the 1960s. It is based on the idea that all human beings have the capacity for compassion and only resort to violence or behavior that harms themselves and others when they do not recognize more effective strategies for meeting needs.

Marshall Rosenberg lecturing in a Nonviolent Communication workshop (1990). Nonviolent Communication (abbreviated NVC, also called Compassionate Communication or Collaborative Communication[1][2]) is an approach to nonviolent living developed by Marshall Rosenberg beginning in the 1960s.[3] It is...
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One of the theoretical underpinnings of RJ practice.

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LEAD drug treatment program helping man turn his life around: 'I - KPTV - FOX 12

LEAD drug treatment program helping man turn his life around: 'I - KPTV - FOX 12 | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
A pilot program in Portland that offers treatment option instead of jail time for low-level drug offenders has reached the one year mark.
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In latest edict, Philly DA Larry Krasner tells prosecutors to seek lighter sentences, estimate costs of incarceration

In latest edict, Philly DA Larry Krasner tells prosecutors to seek lighter sentences, estimate costs of incarceration | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
In a bold new policy announcement, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has instructed prosecutors to seek lower sentences, decline certain classes of criminal charges, and explain why taxpayers should spend money to incarcerate people.
- Chris Palmer, Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News
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Work and opportunity before and after incarceration

Work and opportunity before and after incarceration | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Adam Looney and Nicholas Turner find that boys who grew up in families in the bottom 10 percent of the income distribution are 20 times more likely to be in prison on a given day in their early 30s than children born to the wealthiest families
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Teaching peaceful conflict resolution transforms lives for Both UCLA students & former South LA gang members |

Teaching peaceful conflict resolution transforms lives for Both UCLA students & former South LA gang members | | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
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Meet the 'court watchers' who attend trials for fun - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Meet the 'court watchers' who attend trials for fun - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Court watchers are a rare breed of mostly retirees or semi-retirees who, instead of kicking back at home, caravanning around Australia or becoming free babysitters for their grandchildren, come to court each day to see the justice system at work and be informed and entertained.

The regular court watchers are, in my mind, set apart from the occasional court drop-ins and excursion groups who come to cases from time to time.

It is not unusual for the more seasoned court watchers to sit through every single day of a long-running case.


PHOTO: It's not unusual for a court case to get a lot of public attention, as the Rebel Wilson defamation case shows. (ABC News: Iskhandar Razak)
They know they have to turn their phones off, they don't talk when the court is in session, bar the occasional whisper to a companion beside them, and they hang off every word being said by the prosecutors, judges, defence lawyers and witnesses.

They often exchange knowing "I told you so" looks during a piece of evidence or huddle outside during the morning tea break to discuss what's just been heard in court.

The regular among them mostly know all the reporters in court from the various media outlets and they have their favourites and ones they aren't so fond of. They usually know some of the court officers and sheriffs by name too.

In all, there's a sense of community between most of the court watchers.

Finding soul mates at a murder trial
In my time, I came to regard Robin Gandevia and Denis Sullivan as the pre-eminent court watchers.

Robin and Denis met in the public gallery of Court 3 at the Darlinghurst Courthouse during the Gordon Wood murder trial in 2008.

They hit it off straight away and became the closest of friends and regulars together in court public galleries across Sydney.


INFOGRAPHIC: A judge once remarked that Denis Sullivan had "kindness and mischief in his face". (Supplied)
Robin is a walking encyclopaedia about murder trials, defamation cases, judges, prosecutors, defence lawyers and juries.

And as Denis would say, pausing and taking a breath for dramatic effect:

"Court is better than a movie or the theatre and it's free, so why would you want to be anywhere else?"

Over the years, they became characters in the scenes I saw played out each day.

As I got to know them, I learned little things about them, like how they planned their court day.

Over dinner at night they would look through lists of case names coming up on the Lawlink website together.

Denis would say to Robin, "Put that name in the dirt box", which was his way of saying "Google it" to find out if the case had the potential to be interesting to them.

Robin often spoke to me about the little things he noticed judges do.

One day he was appalled by a judge, who he said paid no attention to a victim impact statement at a sentencing hearing and just carried on with his paperwork.
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Replacing Judges with Computers Is RiskyHarvard Law Review | ()

Replacing Judges with Computers Is RiskyHarvard Law Review | () | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Adopting technology for the sake of having it is an unwise move. Last year, the California Judicial Council proposed that California’s criminal courts jump on a failing bandwagon to inhibit and effectively replace judicial discretion with computer-based algorithms. The present judicial system already assesses each defendant, their previous criminal history, and ties to the community. These facts are used by prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges to render a just determination whether the defendant is a “flight risk and danger” to the victim or to the public.

The California Judicial Council says California should replace its long standing money-bail system with a “risk-based pretrial assessment” tool as seen in other states. They say California should follow the examples set by Washington DC, New Mexico, New Jersey, and other jurisdictions. However, these cities jumped on the computer-based bail-replacement train before technology could catch up with human judgment.

The problem with this recommendation is that these early adopters are discovering too late that, like most half-baked technology, the innovative promise of automated criminal justice is fraught with unintended consequences and errors. Courts in these states and cities have become revolving doors for individuals who offend again.
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Shaylee Shocklee's comment, April 9, 5:36 PM
Bad idea on its own! I think this could be used as a tool for judges to use at their discretion but not as a sole determinant for bail or no bail. This article is entirely accurate in stating that no two crimes and no to offenders are exactly alike. Flight risk especially seems to be a specific determination not only based on the nature of the crime but also the interactions between the offender and judge on the day of trails.
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These districts fought the school-to-prison pipeline. Can Pittsburgh learn their lessons?

These districts fought the school-to-prison pipeline. Can Pittsburgh learn their lessons? | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Can Pittsburgh educators stop the churn of students through the school-to-prison pipeline?
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DA won't direct clean sweep of pot convictions in San Bernardino County - News - VVdailypress.com - Victorville, CA

DA won't direct clean sweep of pot convictions in San Bernardino County - News - VVdailypress.com - Victorville, CA | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
"The problem with recent laws is that they really put the burden on the client to act," Public Defender Phyllis Morris told the Daily Press.
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Minor Offences | The Crown Prosecution Service

Minor Offences charged by the Police
The majority of cases prosecuted by the CPS are charged by the police, and many of these will include minor offences. When reviewing police-charged cases, prosecutors should consider whether a prosecution is the most appropriate disposal.

Where a prosecutor decides that a charged offence should be dealt with by way of a caution or conditional caution (or any other OOCD), the police should be advised and, if the OOCD is accepted by the defendant, the proceedings should be terminated.


Alternatives to Prosecution
The alternatives to prosecution available to a prosecutor are:

(a) cautions;
(b) conditional cautions;
(c) Penalty Notices for Disorder (which can be suggested to the police as an appropriate disposal);
(d) reprimands and final warnings (for youths only);
(e) no further action.

Prosecutors should be proactive in seeking to use non-prosecution disposals for minor offences whenever appropriate.
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