What Youth Offenders Need |TODAY|
Submitted by dan. on 2007-08-13 22:14.
More than a year ago, the Philippines became an object of beating on global television. CNN depicted footages of Filipino youth offenders languishing in over-crowded jails along with adult criminals. Shamed, our Congress responded by passing into law the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (RA 9344) in April 2006. I was one of those who celebrated the triumph of restorative justice when the law was passed.
Under the principles of restorative justice, offenders are given a chance to be restored to their dignity and self-worth and be re-integrated back to society as useful citizens. This entails a psychological and social reformation of a criminal. He is made to understand how much pain, suffering and damage he has caused his victim and his family.
This is done through a programmed, supervised system of mediation between him and his victim or the surviving family. He is given professional help in processing his own mental makeup so he will see that what he did was morally and legally wrong....
One other vital component of restorative justice, which the Juvenile Justice Law fails to address, is that the victim must be restored as well. Victimization transforms a person. He loses faith in society and the systems that govern it. He learns to distrust, even hate, his fellowmen. He becomes bitter.
Yet our criminal justice system, as it has always been, forgets about the victim, in a sense. As soon as a crime is committed, the state steps in. The case now becomes one between the people of the Philippines and the accused. The state prosecutes and focuses on proving the guilt of the offender to punish him. Ours is a punitive and retributive criminal justice system. Thus, it is centered on the criminal—not the victim.
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