Restoring Community

At the beginning of the summer Ted Wachtel described Nils Christie's plenary at the European Forum for Restorative Justice in Helsinki, Finland. Christie "talked about the shootings of children that occurred last summer on an island in Norway at a labor party camp and the bombing in Oslo. And he talked about how Norway seems to have become increasingly restorative. The response of the public, instead of for vengeance was one of acknowledgement of harm, of caring for the people whose children were victims and for those who managed to survive."

Recently the murderer, who plead guilty, was given a 21-year sentence (although this can be extended and everyone agrees he will probably spend the rest of his life in prison). Still, this sentence, which allows the convict to live in a 3-room prison suite, seems to be unsettling some people and spawning discussion.

Between this piece last week from The Atlantic titled "A Different Justice: Why Anders Breivik Only Got 21 Years for Killing 77 People" by Max Fisher and this piece from the Nation's blog today, "In Sentencing Criminals, Is Norway Too Soft? Or Are We Too Harsh?" by Liliana Segura I have to wonder if we are witnessing the beginning of the beginning of a national debate about retributive vs. restorative justice.

For a more personal view on the subject, I'd also recommend a video commentary about the issue by an English woman who has lived in Norway for decades, heard the bomb go off, and has paid close attention to the trial. Watch "Recovering from terror - Norway one year on" on youtube.