The Forgiveness Project was mentioned in The Observer this Sunday in a front-page article entitled Prisons minister says criminals could cut jail sentences by saying ‘sorry’. It’s just a tiny a mention, and they don’t get it quite right either. We do not physically bring victims together to meet their offenders! This is a common misperception. We work only with surrogate victims. Restorative Justice, in the form of an offender meeting their actual victim face-to-face, is an extremely effective form of justice but it still rarely happens because so often the victim or offender doesn’t want it to happen, or there isn’t the provision to facilitate it. Using surrogate victims in the way we do, means – in theory – that every offender in the country could meet a victim and come to understand the impact of their actions on others. This is the most powerful weapon in tackling reoffending – I believe!
Overall The Observer article is a comparatively positive article about the Government’s commitment to Restorative Justice. However, I disagree with the comment made by MP Douglas Carswell when he says: “Restorative justice is certainly a fad that excited those that work for the criminal justice system…..” One such ‘victim’, Rosalyn Boyce, who works with The Forgiveness Project in prisons wrote on my Facebook wall when I posted this article yesterday: “Perhaps MP Douglas Carswell should try living in a victim’s shoes for five minutes and see if he doesn’t change his mind. Speaking as someone who has worked in the prisons with you, and who has always worked her way, HARD WON, through the whole process of recovery and survival, this is an IGNORANT statement….and to me it smacks of someone who is not brave enough to embrace change. I embrace Restorative Justice, it works.”
And – we’re mentioned again in the Independent today – following on from yesterday’s story.