Restorative Justic

Statement on Victims’ Rights and Restorative Justice (Given at San Quentin State Prison, 2016)

Statement on Victims’ Rights and Restorative Justice (Given at San Quentin State Prison, 2016)

Remarks at GRIP Graduation ceremony, on why Transformative Justice is a Victim’s Right.

“My name is Christine.  I’m an author, run a tech company and am the mother of 6 children. My own mother, Monika, didn’t get to meet my children, as she was murdered, her damaged body found in a cornfield.

That loss impacted our family and me in hundreds of ways that it would take too long to enumerate, but the long shadow of that one act was a dark one.

I first encountered the GRIP program through one of its graduates, who was leading a volunteer training program.  He said by way of introduction,”I killed a woman named (NNN) and spent 30 years in SQ for that act.  Now I teach nonviolence and anger management. The first thing I would like to do is apologize to any of you who have been a victim of a crime.”

That was an apology I never expected to get.   And from a man who was radiating calm, presence and clarity.

When I first came into San Quentin 5 years ago with the GRIP program, it was to be part of the unit on victim offender dialogue. I was unsure what to expect, even a little bit scared.  What I have learned since, in the many times in the prisons and at trainings “on the outside” is that even those who commit crimes, with rare exceptions, are victims.  The stories of abuse; the male identity system they are raised in; the lack of skills to feel, pause and respond effectively; the detachment:  these are all learned and can be unlearned.  I have met brilliant people with many talents and so much heart locked away, and seen how much they were sucking up, internalizing and making use of this material.  I saw how each person’s transformation and release of the beliefs that no longer serve them in turn touched and changed others.  The thoughtfulness and peacemaking is as contagious as its opposite.

In the intervening years, I have come to see restorative justice as a victims rights issue.   It’s the responsibility of corrections to return healthy, healing individuals to the society, who will then begin to be a change in their own families and communities.  To stop the  cycle of violence people are trapped in.

To lock people up as punishment and return unhealed people doesn’t make me safer, and to lock people up forever is a cost that I as a mom and taxpayer and and human am unwilling to bear.  We exclude the criminal from our consciousness, but what we don’t look at persists.  Criminality is in part a symptom of a broken culture, not just a broken individual. Healing that takes all of our participation.

To honor my mother, please use the opportunity of time in containment to teach the kind of spiritually and emotionally transformative skills that can move the needle on a more just society.  It’s such an opportunity – for those incarcerated to grow, and for those in charge to be ennobled as correctional healers.  Thank you to everyone who is putting their best efforts into creating a less violent, more just, safer and joyful world.”


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin

More Posts

Coretta Scott King: Activist

Coretta Scott King (1927-2006) Much of the current #MLK day recognition is due to the work of his wife, Coretta. She was an activist in her own right, and made numerous contributions to the struggle for social justice and human rights throughout her life, around the world. She saw herself as King’s coworker, in addition to the role of wife.  Martin Luther King, Jr. said

King and Rustin

Internal Ground: Dr. King’s Philosophical and Spiritual Influences

If you’re going to sustain your activism over a long period of time, amidst great challenges, it helps to have a strong philosophical and spiritual base for your actions. The fellowship of truth seekers, friends and allies who support the strengthening of your inner life, undergird the work. It was no different for Dr. King. His faith story is a rich mixture of his early

Ecological Self-Realization: The Power of “I Am Nature”

Enchantment  We humans live on earth thanks to a wondrous combination of circumstances. First, the earth’s molten core creates the perfect gravitational pull so that we have an atmosphere. Without the core being exactly as it is, the atmosphere would sublimate into space (as it did on Mars, when that planet’s core cooled). The atmosphere also protects us from the wild violence of space: the

Bari Tessler: Financial Happiness

About Bari Bari Tessler has spent over 18 years guiding thousands of people into happier, more empowered and refreshingly honest relationships with money. She has a decade of training as a somatic psychotherapist and work in the mental health field and hospice — and merged it with financial expertise to create an integrated approach to deep money work. I have worked with individuals, couples, and

Nine Gifts Launch Recap!

Thank you! Here’s the full replay! Thank you for joining us to celebrate the launch of the book. We are grateful to our friends and allies for lending their time and talents to the event, to give a taste of what might be shifted in just a few moments. If you are interested in the prostration practice Ros mentions, it’s contained in this program, in

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop