Prisons Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Prisons Corruption News Articles in Media
The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000. Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence. The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions. The admissions mark a watershed in one of the country’s largest forensic scandals, highlighting the failure of the nation’s courts for decades to keep bogus scientific information from juries, legal analysts said. The question now, they said, is how state authorities and the courts will respond to findings that confirm long-suspected problems with subjective, pattern-based forensic techniques — like hair and bite-mark comparisons — that have contributed to wrongful convictions in more than one-quarter of 329 DNA-exoneration cases since 1989.
The New York Times has published several terrifying reports about New Jersey’s system of halfway houses — privately run adjuncts to the regular system of prisons. The horrors described are part of a broader pattern in which essential functions of government are being both privatized and degraded. So what’s really behind the drive to privatize prisons? One answer is that privatization can serve as a stealth form of government borrowing, in which governments avoid recording upfront expenses (or even raise money by selling existing facilities) while raising their long-run costs in ways taxpayers can’t see. Another answer is that privatization is a way of getting rid of public employees. But the main answer, surely, is to follow the money. As more and more government functions get privatized, states become pay-to-play paradises, in which both political contributions and contracts for friends and relatives become a quid pro quo for getting government business. Are the corporations capturing the politicians, or the politicians capturing the corporations? One thing the companies that make up the prison-industrial complex — companies like Community Education or the private-prison giant Corrections Corporation of America — are definitely not doing is competing in a free market. They are, instead, living off government contracts. And ... despite many promises that prison privatization will lead to big cost savings, such savings — as a comprehensive study by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, concluded — “have simply not materialized.” A corrupt nexus of privatization and patronage [is] undermining government across much of our nation.
Note: Have you noticed that crime rates are at the lowest in many years, yet prison spending continues to skyrocket? Is something wrong with this picture? For key major media new articles exposing more on corruption within the "prison-industrial complex," click here.
The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population. But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners. Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing prisoners, a reflection of a relatively recent and now entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment. Americans are locked up for crimes — from writing bad checks to using drugs — that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations. Criminologists and legal scholars in other industrialized nations say they are mystified and appalled by the number and length of American prison sentences. The United States has, for instance, 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation. The United States ... has 751 people in prison or jail for every 100,000 in population. (If you count only adults, one in 100 Americans is locked up.) The median among all nations is about 125, roughly a sixth of the American rate. "Far from serving as a model for the world, contemporary America is viewed with horror," James Whitman, a specialist in comparative law at Yale, wrote last year in Social Research. Prison sentences here have become "vastly harsher than in any other country to which the United States would ordinarily be compared," Michael Tonry, a leading authority on crime policy, wrote. Indeed, said Vivien Stern, a research fellow at the prison studies center in London, the American incarceration rate has made the United States "a rogue state, a country that has made a decision not to follow what is a normal Western approach."
Note: Many people are not aware that violent crime in the US has dropped by over 50% in the last 15 years. Yet the prison population continues to grow rapidly at the same time. For more on this, click here.
The prison phone business is a wildly complex, fiercely secretive and enormously lucrative industry. Over the last decade, [this] business has become a scandalous industry, characterized by lawsuits, exorbitant fees, high phone rates and monopolistic relationships between public jails and private companies that openly offer kickbacks to local sheriffs. "This is about shifting the cost of the police state onto the backs of the poor people being policed," says Paul Wright, executive director of Human Rights Defense Center. [There are] an estimated 2.2 million inmates currently behind bars in America. If you've ever tried to call an inmate, there's a good chance you've heard of Securus, or its main competitor, Global Tel*Link (GTL). The two companies reportedly make up about 80 percent of the prison phone business, which drives about $1.2 billion per year in revenues. In the last few years, Securus, especially, has emerged into one of the largest, if not most secretive, prison technology companies in the business. The company employs 1,000 associates in 46 states, contracts with 2,600 jails and prisons across North America, and provides service to more than 1 million inmates and their families. Securus earned $114.6 million in profits 2014, on revenues of about $404 million. When companies like Securus send proposals to jails and prisons around the country, they offer a percentage of the call rate back to the sheriff's office. It's typical for commissions to range anywhere from 40 percent and 80 percent.
TIME: Your book Just Mercy is about getting legal help for poor people in Alabama. What are the biggest impediments? BRYAN STEVENSON (Lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative): We have a criminal-justice system that treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent. I don’t believe that America’s system is shaped by culpability. I think it’s shaped by wealth. TIME: 1 in 3 black men in the U.S. under 30 is in jail, on probation or on parole. Is this the scariest stat? STEVENSON: That 1 in 3 black males born in 2001 is expected to go to jail or prison during their lifetimes is more astonishing because it’s about the future. And 1 in 6 Latino boys. That wasn’t true in the 20th century. TIME: What do you say to people who say, “It’s easy to not go to jail–don’t commit a crime”? STEVENSON: In this country we have a presumption of guilt that follows young kids of color. I’ve represented 10-year-olds being prosecuted as adults. They are put in an adult jail. It’s so unnecessary–we have juvenile facilities. No one defends it, and yet we still have 10,000 children in an adult jail or prison. TIME: What’s the role of the corporations that build prisons? STEVENSON: Corporations have really corrupted American criminal justice by creating these perverse incentives where they actually pay legislators to create new crimes so that we can maintain these record-high-level rates of imprisonment. These companies spend millions of dollars a year on lobbying. Prison spending has gone from $6 billion in 1980 to $80 billion today.
Note: For details about Stevenson's uphill battle as a legal advocate for the poor, read the complete transcript of the Time interview summarized above. For more along these lines, see these excellent, concise summaries of prison corruption news stories from major media sources.
In late September 1983, an 11-year-old girl named Sabrina Buie was found murdered in a soybean field in Robeson County. She had been raped, beaten with sticks and suffocated with her own underwear. Within days, police got confessions from two local teenagers, Henry Lee McCollum, 19 at the time, and his half brother, Leon Brown, who was 15. Both were convicted and sentenced to death. On [September 2], a state judge ordered both men freed after multiple pieces of evidence, some of which had never been turned over to defense lawyers, proved that neither Mr. McCollum nor Mr. Brown was responsible for the crime. DNA taken from a cigarette found at the crime scene matched a different man, Roscoe Artis, who is already serving life in prison for a similar murder committed just weeks after Sabrina Buie’s killing. Virtually everything about the arrests, confessions, trial and convictions of Mr. McCollum and Mr. Brown was polluted by official error and misconduct. No physical evidence linked either man to the crime, so their false confessions, given under duress, were the heart of the case the prosecutors mounted against them. Both men’s confessions were handwritten by police after hours of intense questioning without a lawyer or parent present. Neither was recorded, and both men have maintained their innocence ever since. Equally disturbing, Mr. Artis was a suspect from the start. Three days before the murder trial began, police requested that a fingerprint from the crime scene be tested for a match with Mr. Artis, who had a long history of sexual assaults against women. The test was never done, and prosecutors never revealed the request to the defense.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing prison corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The FBI has launched an investigation of the Corrections Corporation of America over the company's running of an Idaho prison with a reputation so violent that inmates dubbed it "Gladiator School." CCA has operated Idaho's largest prison for more than a decade, but last year, CCA officials acknowledged it had understaffed the Idaho Correctional Center by thousands of hours in violation of the state contract. CCA also said employees falsified reports to cover up the vacancies. The announcement came after an Associated Press investigation showed CCA sometimes listed guards as working 48 hours straight to meet minimum staffing requirements. The understaffing has been the subject of federal lawsuits and a contempt of court action against CCA. The ACLU sued on behalf of inmates at the Idaho Correctional Center in 2010, saying the facility was so violent that inmates called it "Gladiator School" and that understaffing contributed to the high levels of violence there. In 2012, a Boise law firm sued on behalf of inmates contending that CCA had ceded control to prison gangs so that they could understaff the prison and save money on employee wages, and that the understaffing led to an attack by one prison gang on another group of inmates that left some of them badly injured.
Note: If the above link fails, use this one for the same Associated Press article covering prisons corruption on the website of the UK's Guardian. For more on corruption in the prison-industrial complex, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Are police officers necessarily more trustworthy than alleged criminals? I think not. Not just because the police have a special inclination toward confabulation, but because, disturbingly, they have an incentive to lie. In this era of mass incarceration, the police shouldn’t be trusted any more than any other witness, perhaps less so. That may sound harsh, but numerous law enforcement officials have put the matter more bluntly. Peter Keane, a former San Francisco Police commissioner, wrote [that] “Police officer perjury in court to justify illegal dope searches is commonplace. One of the dirty little not-so-secret secrets of the criminal justice system is undercover narcotics officers intentionally lying under oath. It is a perversion of the American justice system that strikes directly at the rule of law. Yet it is the routine way of doing business in courtrooms everywhere in America.” The New York City Police Department is not exempt from this critique. New York City officers have been found to engage in patterns of deceit in cases involving charges as minor as trespass. Jeannette Rucker, the chief of arraignments for the Bronx district attorney, explained in a letter that it had become apparent that the police were arresting people even when there was convincing evidence that they were innocent. To justify the arrests, Ms. Rucker claimed, police officers provided false written statements, and in depositions, the arresting officers gave false testimony.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on police and prisons corruption, click here.
“Louisiana is the world’s prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran’s, seven times China’s and 10 times Germany’s.” That paragraph opens a devastating eight-part series published this month by The Times-Picayune of New Orleans about how the state’s largely private prison system profits from high incarceration rates and tough sentencing, and how many with the power to curtail the system actually have a financial incentive to perpetuate it. The picture that emerges is one of convicts as chattel and a legal system essentially based on human commodification. • One in 86 Louisiana adults is in the prison system, which is nearly double the national average. • More than 50 percent of Louisiana’s inmates are in local prisons, which is more than any other state. The national average is 5 percent. • Louisiana leads the nation in the percentage of its prisoners serving life without parole. • Nearly two-thirds of Louisiana’s prisoners are nonviolent offenders. The national average is less than half. In the early 1990s, the state was under a federal court order to reduce overcrowding, but instead of releasing prisoners or loosening sentencing guidelines, the state incentivized the building of private prisons. But, in what the newspaper called “a uniquely Louisiana twist,” most of the prison entrepreneurs were actually rural sheriffs. They saw a way to make a profit and did.
Note: To read the powerful 8-part investigation of the Louisiana prison system from the New Orleans Times-Picayune, click here. For more on the cruelty and corruption of the prison-industrial complex, click here.
The US criminal justice system is a broken machine that wrongfully convicts innocent people, sentencing thousands of people to prison or to death for the crimes of others, as a new study reveals. The University of Michigan law school and Northwestern University have compiled a new National Registry of Exonerations – a database of over 2,000 prisoners exonerated between 1989 and the present day, when DNA evidence has been widely used to clear the names of innocent people convicted of rape and murder. Of these, 885 have profiles developed for the registry's website, exonerationregistry.org. The details are shocking. Death row inmates were exonerated nine times more frequently than others convicted of murder. One-fourth of those exonerated of murder had received a death sentence, while half of those who had been wrongfully convicted of rape or murder faced death or a life behind bars. Ten of the inmates went to their grave before their names were cleared. The leading causes of wrongful convictions include perjury, flawed eyewitness identification and prosecutorial misconduct. "The most important thing we know about false convictions is that they happen and on a regular basis … Most false convictions never see the light of the day," said University of Michigan law professors Samuel Gross and Michael Shaffer, who wrote the study. "Nobody had an inkling of the serious problem of false confessions until we had this data," said Rob Warden, executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on the injustices and corruption of the prison-industrial complex, click here.
One in every 31 adults, or 7.3 million Americans, is in prison, on parole or probation, at a cost to the states of $47 billion in 2008, according to a new study. Criminal correction spending is outpacing budget growth in education, transportation and public assistance, based on state and federal data. Only Medicaid spending grew faster than state corrections spending, which quadrupled in the past two decades, according to [a new report] by the Pew Center on the States, the first breakdown of spending in confinement and supervision in the past seven years. The increases in the number of people in some form of correctional control occurred as crime rates declined by about 25 percent in the past two decades. As states face huge budget shortfalls, prisons, which hold 1.5 million adults, are driving the spending increases. Pew researchers say that as states trim services like education and health care, prison budgets are growing. Those priorities are misguided, the study says. “States are looking to make cuts that will have long-term harmful effects,” said Sue Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States. “Corrections is one area they can cut and still have good or better outcomes than what they are doing now.” About $9 out of $10 spent on corrections goes to prison financing (that includes money spent to house 780,000 people in local jails). One in 11 African-Americans, or 9.2 percent, are under correctional control, compared with one in 27 Latinos (3.7 percent) and one in 45 whites (2.2 percent).
Note: Crime is down 25%, yet prison spending is 400% of what it was 20 years ago. Is there anything strange here? The prison-industrial complex is mighty big and in many ways mighty corrupt.
The closure of five prisons in as many years against the background of a falling crime rate, is the kind of news many governments would give their eye teeth for. The impact could have been even more dramatic if the government had adopted the recommendations of a prison service report published in July, which concluded that eight jails and three youth detention centres will be surplus to requirements by the year 2021. The official figures indicate that recorded crime has been falling for around a decade. Between 2014 and 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available, recorded crime was down by nearly 5%, according to national statistics office CBS. In total, recorded crime has shrunk by 25% over the past eight years. Crime figures [have] been falling in nearly all western nations this century, but the decline in the Dutch prison population has been spectacular. In 2006 the Netherlands had the second highest number of inmates in Europe with 125 prisoners per 100,000 population. Only the UK, with 145, had a larger share. But by last year the Dutch were down to Scandinavian levels, with 69 out of every 100,000 citizens behind bars. The government says prison closures are inevitable because it costs too much to keep empty cells open. Official forecasts predict that the downward trend in crime will continue, though how far the fall reflects an actual drop in criminal behaviour remains a hotly contested issue.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution did not end slavery. In fact, it is the first time the word "slavery" was ever mentioned in the Constitution and it is in this amendment where it is ... given the constitutional protection that has maintained the practice of American slavery in various forms to this very day. It is why, right now, the largest prison strike in American history is about to enter its third week - the men and women inside of those prisons are effectively slaves. Their free or nearly free labor represents, according to Alice Speri, “a $2 billion a year industry that employs nearly 900,000 prisoners while paying them a few cents an hour in some states, and nothing at all in others. “In addition to work for private companies, prisoners also cook, clean, and work on maintenance and construction in the prisons themselves — forcing officials to pay staff to carry out those tasks in response to work stoppages. ‘They cannot run these facilities without us,’ organizers wrote ahead of the strike. ‘We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves.’” The entire 13th Amendment ... is just 47 words long. About a third of those words aren't about ending slavery, but are shockingly about how and when slavery could receive a wink and a nod to continue. In essence, the 13th Amendment both banned and justified slavery in one fell swoop. Slavery is legal in prisons.
Note: It's strange to note that very few major media have given any coverage to this important story. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the prison system.
The U.S. federal-prison population swelled from 24,000 prisoners in 1980 to 219,000 in 2013. And federal prisons are just the tip of the iceberg — factor in state prisons and local jails, and there are 2.2 million people locked up in this country. The U.S. Sentencing Commission ... is charged with setting and adjusting the detailed schedule of penalties for those convicted of federal crimes. In April 2014, the commission approved a reduction in sentences for certain drug crimes going forward. In his final months in office, President Obama has focused more on the need for criminal-justice reform. He has used the executive power of clemency to commute some of the most egregiously unfair sentences of 89 federal drug convicts. But a handful of pardons don't amount to much when there are hundreds of thousands of federal prisoners. Nearly half of federal inmates are serving time for drug crimes. Of those, 60 percent were subject to mandatory minimums when they were sentenced. Stephanie George was a 26-year-old mother of three when she was convicted on drug-conspiracy charges because the man she was dating had kept drugs and money in her house. Under the federal three-strikes-and-you're-out law, she was sentenced to life in prison. George was locked up nearly 18 years before Obama commuted her sentence. One of her sons died shortly before her release. She says she doesn't think most politicians consider the costs a mandatory-minimum sentence brings.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing prison system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
From the mid-1970s to the mid-’80s, America’s incarceration rate doubled, from about 150 people per 100,000 to about 300 per 100,000. From the mid-’80s to the mid-’90s, it doubled again. By 2007, it had reached a historic high of 767 people per 100,000. In absolute terms, America’s prison and jail population from 1970 until today has increased sevenfold, from some 300,000 people to 2.2 million. In 2000, one in 10 black males between the ages of 20 and 40 was incarcerated — 10 times the rate of their white peers. At a cost of $80 billion a year, American correctional facilities are a social-service program — providing health care, meals, and shelter for a whole class of people. An authoritative report issued last year by the National Research Council concluded, “the current U.S. rate of incarceration is unprecedented by both historical and comparative standards.” Even once an individual is physically out of prison, many do not elude its grasp. In 1984, 70 percent of all parolees successfully completed their term without arrest and were granted full freedom. In 1996, only 44 percent did. As of 2013, 33 percent do. Deindustrialization had presented an employment problem for America’s poor and working class of all races. Prison presented a solution: jobs for whites, and warehousing for blacks. Mass incarceration “widened the income gap between white and black Americans,” writes [historian] Heather Ann Thompson ... “because the infrastructure of the carceral state was located disproportionately in all-white rural communities.”
Note: The article above provides a detailed history of some U.S. policies that created the corrupt prison industry.
As many as 300 people who were sentenced to death in the United States over a three-decade period were likely innocent. Dozens of defendants sentenced to death in recent years have been exonerated before their sentences could be carried out, but many more were probably falsely convicted, said University of Michigan professor Samuel Gross, the study's lead author. "Our research adds the disturbing news that most innocent defendants who have been sentenced to death have not been exonerated," Gross wrote in the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In their research, Gross and his colleagues examined the 7,482 U.S. death sentence convictions between 1973 and 2004. Of those, 117 had been exonerated in recent years, thanks to the efforts of numerous groups and a tide of public attention to issues surrounding the death penalty. Gross and his co-authors ... estimated that about 4 percent of those sentenced to death were actually innocent, nearly three times the number exonerated during that period. Once inmates' sentences are commuted to life, they are far less likely to be exonerated, mostly because there are fewer legal resources given to their cases, Gross said. "If you were never sentenced to death, you never had the benefit - if you call it a benefit - of that process," he said. Although the study focuses on a period ending 10 years ago, the percentage of false death sentence convictions likely holds true today, Gross said.
Note: For more on the terrible injustices within the corrupt prison-industrial complex, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Swedish prisons have long had a reputation around the world as being liberal and progressive. The head of Sweden's prison and probation service, Nils Oberg, announced in November that four Swedish prisons are to be closed due to an "out of the ordinary" decline in prisoner numbers. Although there has been no fall in crime rates, between 2011 and 2012 there was a 6% drop in Sweden's prisoner population, now a little over 4,500. A similar decrease is expected this year and the next. The Swedes [have] managed to maintain a broadly humane approach to sentencing, even of the most serious offenders: jail terms rarely exceed 10 years; those who receive life imprisonment can still apply to the courts after a decade to have the sentence commuted to a fixed term, usually in the region of 18 to 25 years. Sweden was the first country in Europe to introduce the electronic tagging of convicted criminals and continues to strive to minimise short-term prison sentences wherever possible by using community-based measures – proven to be more effective at reducing reoffending. The overall reoffending rate in Sweden stands at between 30 and 40% over three years – around half that in the UK. One likely factor that has kept reoffending down and the rate of incarceration in Sweden below 70 per 100,000 head of population – less than half the figure for England and Wales – is that the age of criminal responsibility is set at 15. Unlike the UK, where a life sentence can be handed down to a 10-year-old, in Sweden no young person under the age of 21 can be sentenced to life and every effort is made to ensure that as few juvenile offenders as possible end up in prison.
Note: For a Time magazine article showing how Norway's prisons actually rehabilitate prisoners so that they can more easily fit back in society, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
New York City is an expensive place to live for just about everyone, including prisoners. The city paid $167,731 to feed, house and guard each inmate last year, according to a study the Independent Budget Office released this week. “It is troubling in both human terms and financial terms,” Doug Turetsky, the chief of staff for the budget office, said on Friday. With 12,287 inmates shuffling through city jails last year, he said, “it is a significant cost to the city.” by nearly any measure, New York City spends more than every other state or city. The Vera Institute of Justice released a study in 2012 that found the aggregate cost of prisons in 2010 in the 40 states that participated was $39 billion. The annual average taxpayer cost in these states was $31,286 per inmate. New York State was the most expensive, with an average cost of $60,000 per prison inmate. The cost of incarcerating people in New York City’s jails is nearly three times as much. 83 percent of the expense per prisoner came from wages, benefits for staff and pension costs. Some 76 percent of the inmates in the city were waiting for their cases to be disposed. The wait times have grown even as the number of felonies committed in the city has declined. Since 2002, the time spent waiting for cases to be disposed of has gone to 95 days, from 76 days, [former city correction and probation commissioner Michael] Jacobson said.
Note: This CNN chart shows that most states spend two to three times as much on their prison inmates than they do on students in school. What does that say about our priorities? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing prison system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Privatization [of government functions] often comes with a lack of oversight and a series of abuses. One particularly stunning example is the American prison system, the realities of which should be a national disgrace. Some of those realities are highlighted in a recent lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of prisoners at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF). EMCF houses severely mentally ill prisoners, with the supposed intent of providing both incarceration and treatment. Instead, the ACLU contends, the facility, which is operated by private contractors, is rife with horrific abuses. The complaint lists a litany of such horrors, [including]: Rampant rapes. Placing prisoners in solitary confinement for weeks, months or even years at a time. Rat infestations so bad that vermin crawl over prisoners. Many suicide attempts, some successful. Denying or delaying treatment for infections and even cancer. Stabbings, beatings and other acts of violence. Malnourishment and chronic hunger. Officers who deal with prisoners by using physical violence. The [US] prison system is increasingly built and run by for-profit corporations, who have a financial interest in increasing the number of people in prison while decreasing the amount of money it costs to house them. Since 1980, the US prison population has grown by 790%. We have the largest prison population of any nation in the history of the world.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on corruption and human rights abuses in prisons, click here.
Most modern justice systems focus on a crime, a lawbreaker and a punishment. But a concept called “restorative justice” considers harm done and strives for agreement from all concerned — the victims, the offender and the community — on making amends. And it allows victims, who often feel shut out of the prosecutorial process, a way to be heard and participate. In this country, restorative justice takes a number of forms, but perhaps the most prominent is restorative-justice diversion. There are not many of these programs — a few exist on the margins of the justice system in communities like Baltimore, Minneapolis and Oakland, Calif. — but, according to a University of Pennsylvania study in 2007, they have been effective at reducing recidivism. Typically, a facilitator meets separately with the accused and the victim, and if both are willing to meet face to face without animosity and the offender is deemed willing and able to complete restitution, then the case shifts out of the adversarial legal system and into a parallel restorative-justice process. All parties — the offender, victim, facilitator and law enforcement — come together in a forum sometimes called a restorative-community conference. Each person speaks, one at a time and without interruption, about the crime and its effects, and the participants come to a consensus about how to repair the harm done. The methods are mostly applied in less serious crimes, like property offenses in which the wrong can be clearly righted. The processes are designed to be flexible enough to handle violent crime like assault, but they are rarely used in those situations.
Note: This deeply moving and highly educational piece from the New York Times Magazine about the power of restorative justice is well worth reading in its entirety at the link above.
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