Victim empowerment: Emerging ideas from 4 speakers

Crime victims should be central to the restorative process. There are over 10 speakers at RJ World who speak on this issue from various perspectives –included among them are survivors of violent crime who overcame their experiences to become academics and practitioners. Here are four to start with.

Malini Laxminarayan

Malini Laxminarayan has in the past worked on projects relating to empowerment of victims of sexual violence, victims’ rights, and access to restorative justice. Her presentation at the upcoming RJ World 2020 Conference will cover new research into experiences of victims of anti-LGBT hate crime in restorative justice. These are preliminary findings from the Lets Go By Talking project which addresses an under researched victim group in restorative justice. This type of victim may require a unique approach as victims suffer not just a personal attack but an attack on their identity. This presentation may benefit those wishing to enhance their understanding of how to engage this unique kind of victim in restorative conflict resolution.

Margot Van Sluytman

Margot Van Sluytman teaches global citizenship at Centennial College, Toronto and is an award-winning justice activist and writer. In her presentation she will explain an emergent model of restorative justice called Sawbonna, in terms of both criminal justice and social justice. Sawbonna challenges common definitions of restorative justice and further empowers victims as informers of policy and active storytellers beyond a bystander role in justice processes. Therefore, Sawbonna may be said to engage in the required discourses to further ideas of victim empowerment and indeed, RJ advocates will be curious to learn more about this approach which may broaden victim definitions in restorative justice.

Claudia Christen-Schneider

Claudia Christen-Schneider, President of the Swiss RJ Forum, will address the topic of trauma in restorative justice in her presentation. In order for RJ to facilitate healing for victims through empowerment and connection building, it is necessary to recognise where victims are also trauma survivors and, in this case, healing necessitates a trauma-informed approach. Research has shown that RJ practitioners may lack this understanding of trauma and are therefore limited in their capacity to facilitate healing and so this presentation will explain trauma-informed restorative practices for the more effective empowerment of victims.

Dr Zulfiya Tursunova

Dr Zulfiya Tursunova is Assistant Professor in the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at Guilford College, North Carolina. Dr. Tursunova’s presentation will examine the case study of women in rural Uzbekistan who have used restorative circles for their own empowerment in tackling social and economic issues, issues of gender, reorganisation of resources, conflict resolution, and community building. This case study may be interesting in the context of how restorative processes can play a role in social change. It is also interesting that restorative practices have been employed in this context since 1991 and so the role and effect of restorative practices can be seen over a significant period of time. Furthermore, this presentation will be interesting to those considering the breadth of contexts wherein restorative practices prove impactful.


What is the role of the crime victim in restorative justice?

Aertsen et al (2011) suggested that the definition of victim empowerment be broadened in restorative justice from simply an idea of developing self-confidence and understanding of the offence to a sense of empowerment that develops the victim’s capacity to promote social change.1 Indeed, this discussion of victim emancipation which allows the victim a sense of positive impact and the opportunity to engage with crime-relevant social issues is increasingly prevalent. Attendees of the upcoming 2020 RJ World Conference may be interested in hearing emerging ideas around victim empowerment in restorative justice and how victim participation can give a sense of power to affect positive change. In this vein, the following presentations may be of particular interest.

Victim empowerment may be understood as an effort to give victims a greater sense of control and more of an active role in criminal justice processes. Arguably, criminal justice has traditionally been offender-focused, to the detriment of the victim who may feel undervalued and unimportant through the process. Different efforts have been made to ‘empower’ the victim through giving them an opportunity to speak on the impact of the crime on them personally or the opportunity to express what they want from the process. Such efforts – including the likes of victim impact statements – aim to leave victims with a greater sense of satisfaction or closure coming from the criminal justice process. Restorative justice has been praised for improving the balance in criminal justice between the focus on the victim and on the offender. By utilising a process which aims to recognise the needs of both victim and offender, RJ has successfully garnered more satisfactory feedback from victims than those reporting on traditional processes.

1 Prof. Ivo Aertsen of the Leuven Institute of Criminology will also be presenting at the RJ World 2020 Conference on the topic of the history of RJ and the potential of RJ in serious crime, reflecting on the recent history of RJ and RJ developing away from the criminal law


About the author: Ruairí Weiner has recently completed a BA in Anthropology and Criminology from Maynooth University. He is currently a Research Assistant at Maynooth University Department of Law and is pursuing an MSc in Applied Social Research at Trinity College Dublin. He is interested in organisational culture in criminal justice settings and how restorative practices can be applied to a variety of settings for community building and other purposes.

Joseph Lauren: Subject of documentary and RJ advocate

Joseph is the Program Director for the charity, called Restorative Justice Housing Ontario. He also was the first Canadian to receive a Federal Prison sentence for insider trading. From prison, he went to working for a new registered charity, with the goal to assist ex-offenders.

Joseph’s Episode in “Voices Inside Out”

Cover of the Podcast “Voices Inside and Out”

Joseph is the guest in John Howard’s podcast “Voices Inside and Out”. The aim of this podcast is to give a platform to those, who have experienced Canada’s Criminal Justice System, so they can share their stories with the public. Joseph is the guest in a two-part episode.

The first part is titled, Joseph Lauren: Post-custody Housing Challenges and Solutions“. In this interview, Joseph unpacks, and dives deeper into the issues with finding proper housing for ex-offenders. But he does not shy back from these issues! He provides SOLUTIONS – that’s the part that we all need to hear, don’t we? And if you want to learn more of his experience, check out part 2, too. It’s called “Post-custody Employment Challenges and Solutions.

For a little appetiser of what awaits you in episode one, read here:

“After a high-profile conviction for insider trading, finding employment after custody was a challenge for Joseph Lauren. He was handicapped both by a criminal record and a significant presence on google searches. This led to a change of name, starting his own consulting company, and “Collared” a documentary about his crime. Joseph shares with us his journey to earn a living, experiences in prison, and advice for others on how to make it after prison.”

What will Joseph share with us in his presentation?

He will discuss what miraculous event in prison led him from “a life making millions a year as a former lawyer and inside trader to now working as the first Program Director of Restorative Justice Housing Ontario RJHO.ca“(Restorative Justice Housing Ontario).

Adult and child hands holding paper house, family home and homeless shelter concept. Picture taken from http://rjho.ca/.

The plan of RJHO.ca, as they explain on their website is, to…

(…) help people leaving prison become positive members of society by providing safe housing to those with no alternatives. We focus on people who could most benefit from such housing and who are motivated to change their lives. Our positive and supportive community of volunteers help ex‑offenders to transition back into everyday life, reducing the risk of re-offence and making our communities safer.”

In his workshop, Joseph will unapologetically name and talk about the struggle of trying to find safe housing that ex-offenders face. He will clearly outline the precarious position ex-imprisoners find themselves in, even as people that are fully committed to reform.

He will problematize the fact that these people cannot find housing on their own because of finances and discrimination tied to their criminal records – and that’s why support is desperately needed. Support, like from people like Joseph, and charities like RJHO.ca.

“Collared”

Joseph obviously turned his experience into something great, and use-full. On his Website: https://www.collaredconsulting.com/, he offers his skills in many diferent areas.

You can book him as:

  • Compliance-training speaker
  • Information Protection consultant
  • Keynote Ethics speaker and panelist
  • CLE / CPE ethics training consultant
  • Prison Preparation Consultant
  • White-Collar Crime consequences speaker
  • Expert on Insider Trading and its Prevention

And on his personal page you also get access to his successful BLOG, where you can read up more about his fascinating stories.

Aaaand also, while you’re there…. Check out the TRAILER to his EDUCATIONAL-DOCUMENTARY, CALLED “COLLARED”:

Trailer to Josephs film “Collared”

But what’s better than hearing the genius himself live at our RJ WORLD CONFERENCE? Plus, you even get the opportunity to interact with him, and ask him questions! So, we shall see you there! 🙂

20 speakers explore RJ in youth justice

RJ in Schools

Throughout RJ World 2020, we are proud to have many speakers from around the world showcasing their RJ innovations, programs, research, and work. A key reminder, which will be illustrated over the course of the econference, is the reality that RJ has influence and credibility worldwide and in every stage of the criminal justice system, including before crime itself even occurs. This extends to every stage of the criminalisation process. As such, RJ as a philosophy for addressing deviant behaviour can be incorporated into key facets of society, such as the schooling system. RJ goes beyond just addressing what is perceived as crime, and can influence and shape even things like student behavioural management methods.

During RJ World key presenters – including teachers, principals, and coordinators – will share their experiences and practices around RJ in the schools around the world. A key priority of RJ is the recognition and respect for human relationship and the power of storytelling. Just like adult offenders, children engaging in antisocial behaviour and various levels of crime need the emotional and relational support and direction that a RJ vision can bring.

“Restorative processes include victim-offender mediation, conferencing and circles; restorative outcomes include apology, amends to the victim and amends to the community.”

Daniel Van Ness, 2005

Presenters speaking on the topic of RJ in schools will include (but not be limited to):

Adam Voigt (AU), Michelle Stowe (IRE), Laura Mooiman (NL), Margaret Thorseborne (AU), David Vinegrad (AU), Mark Goodwin (UK), Eric Rainey (USA), Lee Rush (USA), Lamika Wilson (USA), Gail Quigley (AU), Dr Maija Gellin (Finland), Dr Belinda Hopkins (UK), Monica Alberti (UK), Anna Gregory (UK), Terence Bevington (UK), Dr Angela Monell (USA), Moana Emett (NZ), Talma Shultz (USA)

Visit the youth justice stream…


The voice of the victim – especially that of a child – is often suppressed, or ignored, in the typical criminal justice system. However, as we begin the second decade of the twentieth century, there is reason and cause to conclude that RJ will increasingly feature in justice responses, especially in areas like child and youth offending. Tune in and hear these speakers, as they discuss what that looks like in the local and international context!

Laura Mooiman: Integrating Restorative Practices and PBIS

Country: Netherlands / Focus: Schools

An American based in The Netherlands, Laura is an international educational consultant specializing in school culture, safety, and student behavior. Most recently she was the Project Director for the Wellness Program and PBIS at Napa Valley Unified School District for 10 years where all 30 schools in the district achieved the highest school climate scores in the state after implementing Restorative Practices and PBIS. www.lauramooiman.com/about

Laura Mooiman, Netherlands. Topic: Schools

Topic: Integrating Restorative Practices and Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports (PBIS): How to Create Safe, Positive, and Restorative School Culture That Sustains
Laura will share lessons learned in her 10 years implementing PBIS and Restorative Practices in all 30 Napa Valley schools which required all schools to build restorative systems to build community, address student behavior and to respond to school and community crises including earthquake, multiple student suicides, Napa wildfires, and student protests. PBIS is foundational to creating systems and structures to prevent problem behavior, make students and staff feel safe, and shift staff mindset toward positive approaches to managing student behavior. Without PBIS schools often do not have the capacity to manage all the restoration that would be required in a reactive mode. Restorative Practices provides tools for staff to create community and work meaningfully with students to repair harm.