THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY: REFLECTIONS ON S.B. 393.

Last week West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed a bill creating many reforms for juvenile justice.  The bill includes a reference to restorative justice programs.  In 2007, I returned to formal education at the Center for Justice and Peace at E.M.U in Harrisonburg and earned an M.A., with a concentration in restorative justice.  During my nearly thirty year career, I have served as an assistant prosecutor in both Berkeley and Kanawha County, and in private practice, represented many criminal defendants.  Following my studies at EMU, I found that restorative justice offers a great deal of potential in addressing harm that stems from criminal wrongdoing. 

While my days working with the West Virginia legislature are behind me, I have had the chance to review the bill that  Governor Tomblin signed.  Like most bills, certain provisions work well, but other areas fall short.  This post includes my short review of the bill: the  good, the bad and some ugly.

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THE POTENTIAL FOR MEDIATION IN CRIMINAL CASES

Mediation has not historically occurred in criminal cases or quasi-criminal cases in the United States.  However, in the late 20th century, processes similar to mediation became employed in some cases.  These processes resemble mediation because they are usually voluntary, inclusive, informal, and allow for a more expansive list of options to resolve the underlying problems.  While mediation is almost always beneficial in civil cases, criminal cases must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if they are suitable for these processes.

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