From the Worldwide Faith News archives

First of Three Documentaries on Justice Issues

Date 04 May 1996 15:25:08


96142    First of Three Documentaries on Justice Issues  
                        Set to Air May 30 
                      by Jerry L. Van Marter 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--The first of three one-hour documentaries on justice 
issues, sponsored by the National Council of Churches (NCC), will be fed to 
NBC network affiliates on May 30. 
     The documentary, produced for the NCC by the Presbyterian Church 
(U.S.A.), is titled "Restoring Justice."  Restorative justice, an 
alternative to punishment-based criminal justice systems, has been endorsed 
by the Presbyterian Church.  It is a community-based approach that seeks 
reconciliation between offenders, their victims and the communities 
affected by their crimes. 
     "Restoring Justice" moves around the country (Allentown, Pa.; 
Cleveland; Itasca County, Minn.; Bend, Ore.) to examine the effectiveness 
of the restorative justice approach in communities where it is supported by 
law enforcement agencies, crime victims and prisoners. 
     Ann Gillies, coordinator for media services for the PC(USA) and 
executive producer of the program, says that restorative justice is not a 
new concept.  "It is a common way of dealing with transgressions," she 
contends.  "It actually has a long history as a process for communities to 
settle disputes.  When a crime is committed, the entire community suffers. 
We see that all the time in the nightly news.  No matter where they live, 
people are at least momentarily devastated and probably forever changed by 
violent crime in their midst." 
     Gillies says that is why the restorative justice movement is 
increasingly being embraced around the country.  "It is important for the 
whole community to be involved in the healing process and why faith groups 
across the country have rallied around the concept of restorative justice 
-- it goes right to the heart of what we are about: community and justice." 
     The Rev. Virginia Mackey, a renowned author and speaker on the subject 
of restorative justice, insists that punishment-based (or retributive 
justice) is far more expensive and far less effective than restorative 
justice.  Mackey, a member of the National Interreligious Task Force on 
Restorative Justice, says, "I think victim rage comes about because we so 
seldom listen to the pain that they have experienced and their lack of 
security that they feel probably for the rest of their lives.  So we must 
try to deal with that pain in a system that's parallel to the way we try to 
address the needs of the offender and, if possible, bring the two together 
at some point for closure which might lead to some kind of healing for 
     The other two documentaries in the series address violence against 
children (Sept. 29 on ABC) and the plight of refugees in the United States 
(on a date to be announced in October on CBS). 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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