- In Remembrance
This last summer saw the death of Judge Gordon McConnell who allowed two drunken teens the chance to have a restorative option long before the word 'restorative' was part of the justice lexicon. This well-documented case from 1974, in the Waterloo region of Ontario, planted seeds for what eventually led to the seminal work of Howard Zehr and others in the Elkhart region of Indiana. At the request of Mennonite Central Committee probation officers Mark Yantzi and Dave Worth, the two offenders were able to apologize directly to 22 small-town victims who experienced vandalism and property damage. They also offered to pay back restitution which they fully did within the following year.
McConnell, though having a reputation for being tough, immediately bought into the idea of the offenders taking responsibility for their actions rather than going to jail. Later he joined the board of Community Justice Initiatives that started in the wake of this landmark case. Read more about McConnell's life as well as see a film about the Elmira case.