On March 9th, 2010 Revd His Honour Peter Morrell spoke about “Restorative Justice”. He was a Circuit Judge at Northampton and Leicester Crown Courts until his retirement. In his view our justice system is failing, especially because of the resort to prison sentences for many offenders (especially young people) who are not a danger to the community. Experiments which have brought together offenders and victims, with skilled mediation, have proved very effective, and should be used more in our own system.
Restorative Justice.The Revd His Honour Peter Morrell.Wymington. 9th March 2010.
“The approach of restorative justice is to see the offending behaviour not just as a crime but as a breach of a relationship; the relationship we all have as individuals with others in our communities.” Cherie Booth QC, 2006. “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’. But I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also…” Jesus Christ (Mt. 5.38-39). “Through the restorative process, a person who has been the object of harm is given an opportunity to achieve a greater sense of inner healing and closure for any traumatic loss of trust, self worth, and freedom and gradually to become again a positive presence in the community. For those who have harmed another, the restorative process can be equally engaging. It encourages them to reflect upon and accept responsibility for their harmful behaviour, to offer a genuine apology to those they have harmed and thereby begin to make reparation for what they have done. It is hoped that through this process they can put the offence behind them, regain or perhaps develop for the first time a degree of self-esteem, and in the process become reintegrated into their family, workplace, school, or community which they might share with the person they have hurt.”Sullivan, Tifft and Cordella, 1998. “In attempting to find a definition of justice it’s helpful to say first of all what justice isn’t – justice isn’t simply punishment or retribution. For the true purpose of punishment is penitence…To be redemptive, punishment must be more than removing the perpetrator, permanently or temporarily; it must provide an avenue for total transformation of the situation. Total transformation means the changing of lives so that the maladies that cause division are eliminated…The goal of our justice system is to put things right between people where a crime or inequality has damaged a relationship, rather than to enforce obedience to a social rule. This aim is shared by the more modern idea of Restorative Justice.”John Sentamu, July 2003. “The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilisation of any country. A calm and dispassionate recognition of the rights of the accused against the State, and even of convicted criminals against the State, a constant heart-searching by all charged with the duty of punishment, a desire and eagerness to rehabilitate in the world of industry all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment, tireless efforts towards the discovery of curative and regenerating processes, and an unfaltering faith that there is a treasure, if only you can find it, in the heart of every man – these are the symbols which in the treatment of crime and criminals mark and measure the stored up strength of a nation, and are the sign and proof of the living virtue in it.”Winston Churchill, July 1910. “If we seriously want to address the problem of reoffending, it is clear that a penal culture in which there is no real attention to how offenders change is worse than useless – literally worse than useless, in that it reinforces alienation, low self-worth and the lack of any sense of having a stake in the life of a community.” Rowan Williams, 2007. “A comprehensive sense of justice requires that the type of punishment should routinely assist all offenders to retake their place eventually in normal society.” The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, 2004.
“The law can never be out of step with public opinion or it will be held in contempt, but neither can it respond to every editorial in the tabloid newspapers or it could be manipulated by our worst impulses.” Helena Kennedy Q.C, 2002.
“Since 1995 prison numbers [in the UK] have risen by 60%. In France over that period they rose by 1%, in Canada they fell by 11%. In [Jack] Straw’s world, there is a government proud of its record on law and order. In the rest of the world, England and Wales are regarded – like the US – as a global punitive outlier…There is evidence that the majority of people view prison as futile and back the idea of offenders repairing damage they have caused. They also know a waste of money when they see one.”Ian Loader, Professor of Criminology at Oxford University, 2008. “The evidence from other comparable European countries is that the number of people in prison in [the UK] could be significantly reduced without increasing any risk to the safety of society.”Professor Coyle, King’s College, London University, 2005. “We have already spoken in favour of the extension of the current schemes of restorative justice. Victims, too, often have to undergo a transformative journey…Programmes which require the offender to take responsibility for the harm they have done, and undertake activities to make amends to the victim and the community, can help to bring closure for the victim and help resolve issues of fear, vulnerability, personal security and self-blame which can be part of the aftermath of crime for the victim.”The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, 2006. “Showing young men, who may feel that they have little to offer society and that their life is not worth much, that they can be valued and valuable members of society is an important first step in the rehabilitative process. (p.41)….The operation of the criminal justice system at the current time does little to ensure that offenders make amends for what they have done, or to recognise the impact of their behaviour.”The Howard League for Penal Reform, 2006.