Jimmy Mizen's parents back restorative justice calls

 
Youths in hooded tops The Ministry of Justice says restorative justice is "already widely used in the youth justice system"

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The parents of a teenager who was stabbed to death are part of a group calling for all crime victims to be involved in the sentencing process.

Barry and Margaret Mizen, whose son, Jimmy, 16, died in 2008, are among 30 signatories to a letter in the Times.

Criminal justice reform proposals are currently being developed by ministers.

And the government is consulting about proposals to widen the use of restorative justice to cover low-level crime to cover low-level crime and anti-social behaviour.

But the letter in the newspaper, which has the backing of former Attorney General Lord Falconer and former chief inspector of prisons Dame Anne Owers, calls on the government to "ensure through legislation that this process is offered to all victims of crime, whenever an offender pleads guilty to their offence and agrees to participate".

'Cut reoffending'

The letter says: "Research published by the Ministry of Justice shows that the majority of victims choose to participate in restorative justice meetings with their offenders when this is offered."

Research suggests 85% of victims who participate are "satisfied with the process, because it gives victims a say, answers to their questions, and reparation that means something" and the meetings cut reoffending by "at least" 14%, it adds.

Others who have given their backing to the letter include former Tory MP Jonathan Aitken, Norfolk Constabulary Chief Constable Phil Gormley, the Bishop of London - the Right Reverend Richard Chartres - and Professor Mike Hough of the Institute for Criminal Policy Research.

In January, two independent groups calling for an end to Crown Court trials for children in England and Wales, called instead for most child suspects to be dealt with by restorative justice meetings.

'Widely used'

A Police Foundation and Justice report said most allegations involving 10- to 17-year-olds should be dealt with in this way.

In response, the Ministry of Justice said restorative justice was "already widely used in the youth justice system".

Jimmy Mizen was murdered during an attack in a south London bakery.

His killer, Jake Fahri, 19, from Lee, south London, was sentenced to life in prison in March 2009.

He was told he would serve at least 14 years behind bars.

 

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 41.

    Although I found in 30 years of Policing that the Courts consistently failed to adequately punish most offenders, I would not like to see direct involvement by the victim in the sentencing process. Better that the whole system be reviewed to both satisfy the need for punishment, and reduce the high reoffending rate. There is room for both sides but not for vengance, or forgiveness, by victims.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 36.

    No.

    Its too emotive for the victims & their families and although I sympathise with them this would be a step too far.

    Judges have the responsiblity for a reason.

    I do agree that life should mean life.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 30.

    No, for reasons stated by posters earlier. It would also open up victims or their families to possible coercion from the defendant and their associates. Also what happens if the victim cannot speak for themselves or has no one to speak for them, would the crime be considered of lesser value? This needs more thought.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 27.

    I believe the current sentencing guidelines require changing as there is no consistency in how they are applied and at times they are woefully inadequate. However, bereaved family members will want (understandably) to impose maximum sentences and this could lead to injustices. Possibly vetted citizens would be an acceptable compromise.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 26.

    The judiciary process MUST always remain objective for the sake of real justice. Although our system is far from perfect and does need improving, victims cannot by allowed to turn it into a subjective system where sentencing will undoubtedly become a tool for revenge. That is not, and never should be, what our legal systems aspires to.

 

Comments 5 of 7

 

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