Meeting With a Killer

An amazing class cannot always be lighthearted, and today it took a turn. It was not a bad turn, but one that challenged us mentally and emotionally. Yesterday, we read about restorative justice, a series of additive or alternative strategies to the current judicial system. It involved looking into the hurt that was felt rather than on what laws were broken, and on the victim rather than the state. One of the many possible restorative justice techniques involves the offender and victim or victims meeting. In response to last night’s readings, today our professor showed us a documentary titled Meeting With a Killer. The movie centered around a daughter and grandmother whose mother/daughter had been raped and murdered by two fifteen year old boys, fifteen years before the documentary was filmed. The grandmother had begun to work as a teacher in prisons and eventually decided to seek out a restorative justice program. A mediator began writing to the grandmother and doctor as well as the offender, and then met with them both. When she understood that all three wanted to and were ready to meet, she arranged it. The offender had been sexually abused as a child and had never had a real family. When the crime was committed he and his friend had been heavily intoxicated. The family had a civil and understanding discussion with him and in the end took a picture with him. What must be understood is that this ending is not something that always happens, nor is it necessary. Every victim has their own needs. What struck me, was the fact that they were all victims. Gary, the offender had been abused as a child, and in turn became an abuser. The abused do often become the abusers, and so I was left to wonder how a legal system can be effective when it is allowing this cycle to happen. It is fighting people, when it should in fact be fighting an idea. By the end of the class, many people were almost in tears. We felt stressed together, but in a good sense. For the first time we are understanding that nonviolence is not easy. It is hard, but it may in fact be the best way of going through life.

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