Friday, June 5, 2009

Victims' Compensation and Restorative Justice

Continuing yesterday's post, the two other victim-related bills that Renny Cushing sponsored during this session and that are now on their way to the New Hampshire Governor (having passed in the House and the Senate), are:

A bill that expands the categories of those who are eligible to file victims' compensation claims. Specifically, the bill amends the existing victims' compensation law to include "a family member of a law enforcement officer, an inmate at a state or county correctional facility, and an individual who is not a citizen of the United States or who is not a legal alien."

Regarding the types of claims that may be made, the new additions are in bold:

The claimant may be reimbursed for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses, medical expenses, funeral expenses, counseling expenses, rehabilitative expenses, expenses associated with the victim’s participation in post-conviction proceedings and victim-offender dialogue programs or other restorative justice programs, and lost wages directly resulting from the crime.

And speaking of restorative justice programs, that's the other bill that Renny sponsored: "An act relative to access to restorative justice programs by victims of crime." That bill, in summary, "adds the right to access to restorative justice programs including victim-initiated victim-offender dialogue programs offered through the department of corrections to the victim bill of rights and requires the office of victim/witness assistance to provide information on such programs."

These bills, together with the Crime Victims Equality Act (see yesterday's post), offer activists in other states some powerful examples of progressive victims' rights and criminal justice legislation. Alongside the death penalty repeal bill that got some good attention in New Hampshire this session and the death penalty study commission bill that just passed, they present a vision (and now also a reality!) of the possibilities within anti-death penalty and pro-victim lawmaking.

1 comment:

Lisa Rea said...

These are excellent legislative efforts. Restorative justice, and particularly victims-driven restorative justice, is needed in our criminal justice system in the U.S. Representative Renny Cushing is a leader nationally in the effort to reform the broken criminal justice system in place today. Victim-offender dialogue that is victim's driven is an excellent first step in opening doors for healing of victims, and communities, where stressing the need for offender accountability.

Lisa Rea
Rea Consulting
Victims-Driven Restorative Justice
Strategic Consultant, Centre for Justice & Reconciliation, PFI