Tag Archives: restorative justice

Paul Kohler and restorative justice

I switched on my car radio earlier this week and was surprised to hear a familiar voice.  It was Paul Kohler, the Lib Dem PPC in our top target constituency of Wimbledon. In fact I had been in a meeting with him the evening before when he was talking about his campaigning strategies.

But Paul was not engaging in a political debate on this occasion. Instead he was discussing a horrific incident that had involved him and his family some years ago. The series title is “Forgiveness: Stories from the Front Line” and each programme features someone who has had to, as the programme notes state, “struggle with forgiveness in order to be free”.

One day Paul answered his front door and was pushed over by four masked men asking him where the money was. Apparently they had gone to the wrong house, but they attacked and beat him badly, and also threatened his wife. Unknown to them Paul’s daughter and her boyfriend were in the house and they managed to call the police, who came quite promptly and probably saved Paul’s life. Two of the intruders were arrested immediately and the others were tracked down later. All four were given prison sentences.

The crux of the story was not this awful experience but what followed. The family were invited to take part in a restorative justice meeting with one of the assailants. It is this encounter that Paul describes in a way that I found powerful and moving. You really do need to listen to it to understand why. The meeting ended with the two men shaking hands, and Paul realising that he could forgive him.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

On statues being pulled down and our response

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What should we do with people who tear down public statues? Apply restorative justice techniques.

As Liberal Democrats, I hope we all agree that the statue of Edward Colston should have been removed from its location a long time ago: it represented a very public promotion of someone whose wealth was built from vile acts.

In the back of our minds should be another question – what if a different statue had been pulled down? One where we didn’t quite agree whether it should still be there or not? Where the rights and wrongs of the person’s life weren’t as clear cut? Or where we didn’t feel there was a clear consensus?

More plainly: should we support those committing these acts being prosecuted or not?

We either take the punitive approach – a crime is a crime; or we allow it to pass, with the risk that mob rule ensues on any viewpoint that can get enough people together.

I don’t think we should take either view: we should apply a restorative justice approach to these acts.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 31 Comments

The day the arts took a swipe at cuts…

On March 31st my colleague Alex and I went to see the play “The day the arts took a swipe at cuts”.

My friend Alex and I actually went to see the play “Victim” which is currently playing at the Kings Head Theatre in Islington. We did this after being contacted through our roles with Liberal Democrats for Prison Reform and a brilliantly hard-hitting show it was too.

“Victim” is a play that perfectly demonstrates how broken our prison system is. It tells the harrowing tale of the power struggle between the inmate and the guard, and the roles they play in a system that has been brutally hit by harsher-than-necessary cuts. This blog is not so much a review (such a phenomenal performance has no shortage of positive reviews) as it is a cry out for support and an end to cuts in this frankly broken prison system.

The Prison Reform organisation, Liberal Democrats for Prison Reform have, since our launch, been looking for a way to exemplify how much reform is needed to our prison system to make it fit for the 21st century. This play does this in a way no article or speech has managed to do yet. Fydor Dovtoyevsky once said, “the degree of civilisation in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” I must say that the fact that this theatre company wrote and performed this moving piece is testament to the scale of the challenge we as a country face.

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Julian Huppert MP writes… Community sentencing and restorative justice

Our country’s relentless focus on punishment for punishment’s sake, rather than as a tool for crime reduction and rehabilitation, has consigned thousands of individuals to a hopeless life with no way out. A staggering 90% of those sentenced in England and Wales in 2011 had committed a previous offence.

Even in the best of circumstances – where criminals are caught, trials are fair and judges pass sentence – prisoners aren’t rehabilitated; victims remain unfulfilled and citizens are rightly angered.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 16 Comments

Opinion: Riots, prisons and us

The speeches this week by David Cameron and Ed Milliband made for a very interesting bit of bed-time reading. For me, both the Prime Minister and the Labour leader were pretty wide of the mark. Ed, as he often does came across as being reactionary. Too scared to be seen to defend looters and join the dots toward massive social injustice but too hidebound by his party to talk about throwing away the key, he was left very much floundering somewhere in the ether; neither talking about the roots of the problem (possibly because they lie a little close to …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 40 Comments
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