PF Georgia Offering Legal AssistanceFor many prisoners and their families in Georgia, economic realities limit access to legal aid for a variety of issues including legal defence in criminal cases, allegations of human rights abuses, and civil matters. In response, PF Georgia mobilised a team of ten certified attorneys to meet the legal needs of prisoners, their family members and other citizens. Prisoners can request assistance through written application or a request through a family member. Two lawyers are on duty in the PF Georgia office to provide drop-in service to citizens seeking help. The ministry also maintains a legal assistance hotline. Upon receiving a request, the lawyers will meet with the prisoner to learn more about his/her case. They gather information about their situation in prison documenting violations and other cases or problems. If there is a rights violation, the legal team will apply to the appropriate authority to alleviate the situation. At the same time, they ensure that appropriate assistance such as medical care is provided. When necessary, the legal team will prepare complaints to file with the courts including the European Court of Human Rights. According to Lali Tevdorashvili, PF Georgia executive director, the ministry provides legal assistance to about 20 people each month with perhaps five or six cases going to court.
Helping Churches Learn about Restorative JusticeIn early September, PF Australia (South Australia) mailed sermon notes about restorative justice to 140 of its supporting churches. The notes, written by coordinating chaplain Bill Reddin, were meant to encourage the churches to prepare for the International Restorative Justice Week observed during the third full week of November. Drawing from Jeremiah 23:1-6, Luke 1:68-79, Colossians 1:11-20, and Luke 23:33-43, the sermon notes address several questions: How can we be champions of justice in an unjust society?How can we be healed of a critical heart, and stay healed? Why is salvation so illusive for so many?How can we be champions of salvations in a self-righteous society?So what of our justice system and what are we to make of it?According to Helen Glanville, the sermon notes were a “gift” to thank the churches for various types of support over the years. They are available online at http://www.pfi.org/cjr/addedarticles/focusing-on-the-needs-of-victims-and-offenders-sermon-notes.-by-bill-reddin.-2010.
International Diploma in Restorative Justice PFI has arranged for a special session of Queen’s University’s International Diploma in Restorative Justice to follow the Prison Fellowship World Convocation from 3 to 9 July 2011. The sessions will begin the evening of the 3rd and end the evening of the 9th (departure on the 10th). The course, normally two weeks, will consist of six intensive days of lectures, videos, group work and in-class presentations as well as assignments to be completed after students return home. The course will offer a comprehensive overview of restorative justice, its criminological and theological roots, processes, and public policy implications. Faculty will include guest lecturers from various programmes to provide a practical perspective on how restorative justice works in practical terms. The course is available only to those with a proficiency in both written and spoken English. To apply for admission go to the registration page. For more information, contact Lynette Parker (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Online Justice Resources One purpose for the Justice and Reconciliation section of http://www.pfi.org/ is to collect resources related to various justice topics. Below is a listing of resources added over the last few months. Making law and policy that work. Handbook for law and policy makers on reforming criminal justice and penal legislation, policy and practice. (2010). Penal Reform International. From the handbook by Penal Reform International: Making Law and Policy that Work is aimed at specialists and non-specialists faced with the responsibility of creating a policy and legislative framework for criminal justice and penal systems. It recognises that criminal justice reform requires expertise and experience in a variety of disciplines which are rarely embodied in one person. It takes into account the fact that many countries in transition lack specialists. It aims to provide clear guidance and practical suggestions for reform in line with an international human rights framework which can be applied in different contexts and countries. It's about time: Aging prisoners, increasing costs and geriatric release. From the report by Tina Chiu: As harsher policies have led to longer prison sentences, often with a limited possibility of parole, correctional facilities throughout the United States are home to a growing number of elderly adults. Because this population has extensive and costly medical needs, states are confronting the complex, expensive repercussions of their sentencing practices. To reduce the costs of caring for aging inmates—or to avert future costs—legislators and policymakers have been increasingly willing to consider early release for those older prisoners who are seen as posing a relatively low risk to public safety. A listing of recently added Justice and Reconciliation related documents is available at http://www.pfi.org/cjr/recent-additions. An RSS feed is also available at http://www.pfi.org/cjr/recent-additions/RSS.
Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Georgia and Australia.Justice network is brought to you by the Centre for Justice and Reconciliation, a programme of Prison Fellowship International.
To submit an article to Justice Network or request help, e-mail Lynette Parker at email@example.com
Compiled and edited by Lynette Parker and Dan Van Ness
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