From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
First of Three Documentaries on Justice Issues
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 PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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