Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New book: Parallel Justice for Victims of Crime

Susan Herman, whom we interviewed in our fall/winter newsletter and who spoke on the "Innovative and Effective Responses to Crime and Violence" panel at this year's National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty conference along with Howard Zehr and Renny Cushing, now has a book out called Parallel Justice for Victims of Crime.

You can read more about the book and order a copy at the website of the Parallel Justice Project, which is well worth a visit. The site gives a great overview of the concept of parallel justice, how it has been implemented in several communities, and how others can help put it into practice. Here's an excerpt:

For every reported crime, our society responds by trying to apprehend, prosecute, sanction and eventually reintegrate offenders back into productive communal life. Following the Parallel Justice framework, there would always be a separate set of responses for victims of the crime. Parallel Justice responses seek to restore victims’ safety, help them recover from the trauma of the crime, and regain a sense of control over their lives.

These responses would not depend on whether the offender is ever identified or convicted. In all cases, the harm experienced by victims of crime would be acknowledged and addressed separately and apart from the criminal justice process. While victims’ legal rights within the criminal justice process should be enforced, society’s obligation to provide justice to victims extends beyond the criminal justice process.

This new vision of justice challenges criminal justice agencies–police, prosecutors, courts, and corrections–to respond more effectively to victims, and make victims’ safety and the prevention of repeat victimization, a higher priority. Every social service and healthcare agency can also reorient its core business practices to play a greater role in helping victims rebuild their lives. In fact, every sector of our civil society—businesses, employers, schools, faith-based institutions, and neighbors–can make important contributions to Parallel Justice.

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