Crime victims find healing through restorative justice
Following the murder of her husband--a San Leandro, CA police officer--Dione Wilson struggled for years to move past her crippling grief. In an interview with San Francisco's KALW Public Radio station, Wilson describes her hope that a guilty verdict would bring her the peace she needed to move on with her life. "I had this little light at the end of the tunnel. I kept thinking, it’s almost over, he’s gonna get convicted. He’s gonna be on death row. I’m gonna feel better. I’m gonna feel better. And then when it happened, and he did get put on death row, I waited, and I waited, and I waited. And I thought, Huh, well, it really didn’t work. I don’t feel better, I feel worse"
After exhausting all resources available in the criminal justice system, Wilson turned to the Insight Prison Project--a restorative justice (RJ) based organization which helps facilitate victim-offender dialogue meetings. Meetings such as these bring together offenders with those who have been harmed as a result of their crime to have a discussion around accountability, harm, and repair. Sonya Shah, the advocacy director of Insight Prison Project had the following to say about why crime victims often do not find healing through the traditional processes of the criminal justice system:
In that process, what’s missing is nobody actually asks me as a person who’s committed a crime what I’ve done. And nobody actually gives me an opportunity to take accountability. And on the side of a survivor, the victim of the crime, nobody asks that victim what they need. What the impact of the harm was. And what does the victim think the obligation is on the side of the person who’s committed the harm. Victims are just used often to convict
In contrast, Shah continues, "Restorative justice invites a very different process of repairing harm. It takes into account crime survivor’s needs, community safety, public safety, accountability, and really actually getting to the root causes of harm."
To hear about about Dione Wilson's inspiring story, click here to listen her interview on KALW.
For additional information on the exciting work underway at Insight Prison Project, visit their website by clicking here.