A Sociology and Psychology Look at the Nenagh Community Reparation Project and how it would Benefit the United States Judicial System

Criminology

Sociologists and psychologists alike all over the world have always tried to answer why people commit crimes. Throughout the world governments have their own ways of dealing with offenders. Programs are set in place and others are in development in order to figure out what deters criminals from being offenders. Ireland has a program set in place called Nenagh Community Reparation Project. This program is based around the victim and offers closure instead of concentrating on punishing the offender only. The way the program is developed it allows reparation to victims and adequate punishment for the offender without having to serve any time in jail. Bringing this program to the United States would definitely be of great help in certain crimes and I will offer more insight in regards to my beliefs on this subject.

The Nenagh Community Reparation Project is based off another similar project in effect in New Zealand. It was set in place in 1999 and it is a project that is involved with the victim and the victim’s feelings. The idea behind this project is to allow the victim with some type of closure and compensation directly from the offender (Gleeson, 2007). The program involves everyone from the victim to the offender to the community. If there is no actual person as the victim in the case then the crime would have been committed against the community. In this case the offender will have a choice of giving back to the community as form of reparation (Gleeson, 2007).

The program is in no way a substitute to the judicial system and that another reason why it works. It is supposed to be in place to help curve behavioral problems within individuals who have committed criminal offenses (Gleeson, 2007). It deals more directly with drugs or alcohol cases and any type of assault or damage that would derive from using such substances. It also deals with offenders charged with most types of assault charges within neighborhood altercations. The program has been in use since 1999 and until 2007 their success rate was 82% which means that only 18% of the people who were awarded into the project became repeat offenders (Gleeson, 2007). I can’t say that this number is perfect but is so much better than many of our programs currently running. Of course this program wouldn’t be offered to serial killers or serial rapists but some crimes that we could normally throw an offender in jail for could possibly benefit from it. This way it would be more likely that the offender could successfully rehabilitate back into society.

I believe that this program would be extremely beneficial to make in effect in the United States of America. This country is one of the more diversified countries in the world. We house many individuals who are not so different inside or out as they are in a behavioral matter. For the wide variety of behavioral patterns we cannot just have one set of rules in place that would comply with all of them. This could be a great addition to our current justice system and since it does not substitute the justice system it will only work closely with it to maximize the system itself.

For instance, by utilizing this system we could free up some space in the jails that could be used for offenders who committed more serious crimes. By not mixing up first and minor offenders we could deter those same offenders from becoming more involved with more dangerous offenders. This way they do not have to do things to survive in such environment. Victims would get closure and begin with the healing factor, something that cannot happen when someone is just thrown in jail and the victim knows they will be out and could possibly commit another crime again. This program could open doors to so many new job opportunities and positions that it would help boost the economy some.

Although the project is not official as of now anywhere in the United States, it is unofficially being used or tested in many different states thus far. In Alabama Judge McCooey has implemented into courtroom her own program similar to the Nenagh Community Reparation Project. She believes that victims should be giving a chance to heal and maybe get an answer to everyone’s initial question; “why?” (Kimsey, 2011) In South Dakota they already have implemented “The Center for Restorative Justice” and it revolves around the community. Its main belief is the separation from the court system, although they have tried to separate them both but yet keep that connection to the court system (Cook, 2011).

All over the United States some courts have allowed or implemented their own version of the project. Although it is something that is not 100% in motion when used properly it is a great tool for rehabilitation to the offender and the path for healing for the victim. Whether the victim is a person or the community it is great to know that both ends would be taken care of. The project wouldn’t only bring jobs and a more diversified and well rounded court system but it would also bring help to other government agencies. In California exists a Reparation fund which is in place to help pay to the victims as a last resort when all else has failed. Since 1965 when the bill initiated it has paid over $2 billion dollars to cover burial fees and other expenses from many claims (Miller, 2011). In this case the reparation aspect begins to sound pretty good. It could have saved so much money but at the same time serve more for the healing of the victim and the community as a whole. I believe this project should be implemented throughout the United States as I myself have been a victim and as one never received the option for closure and know how bad that feels.

References

Cook, ALF. (2011, April 14). Justice program rooted in community, not courts. Retrieved from http://www.restorativejustice.org/RJOB/justice-program-rooted-in-communi...

Gleeson, C. (2007, July 19). Nenagh community reparation project. Retrieved from http://nenaghreparation.com/report-2007.php

Kimsey, K. (2011, May 4). A visionary judge makes restorative justice come alive in alabama. Retrieved from http://www.restorativejustice.org/RJOB/a-visionary-judge-makes-restorati...

Miller, J. (2011, February 21). California's victims restitution fund running on empty. Retrieved from http://www.restorativejustice.org/RJOB/californias-victims-restitution-f...