“An undeserved gift, something startling and luminous.”That is how the New York Times described the moment when the victim of a thoughtless act of violence, Victoria Ruvolo, met her attacker in a Long Island, NY courtroom. The horrific injuries she suffered in the assault nearly killed her, but after enduring multiple surgeries and many months of rehab she stood tall and clear eyed in the courtroom.
Vicky was preoccupied with more than just physical recovery during the preceding months. She also had been pondering the emotional and spiritual implications of what had happened to her, and when the D.A. insisted on a 25 year prison sentence for her young assailant, she thought about that too.
The result of her ruminations was a plea bargain of only 6 months and 5 years of community service for 19 year old Ryan Cushing, and although the D.A. vigorously resisted such clemency, Vicky arm wrestled him into accepting it.
Ryan pled guilty that day and accepted his sentence, and afterward, meeting Vicky face to face for the first time, he tearfully apologized and begged forgiveness – Vicky cradled his head as he sobbed. The NY Times put it beautifully:
“Given the opportunity for retribution, Ms. Ruvolo gave and got something better: the dissipation of anger and the restoration of hope, in a gesture as cleansing as the tears washing down her damaged face, and the face of the foolish, miserable boy whose life she single-handedly restored.”
Vicky’s extraordinary act of compassion made global headlines. Her wisdom and courage in the face of a hard-bitten justice system inspired people all over the world.
Restorative JusticeThe videos, reprints and links here tell Vicky’s remarkable story. But there is another remarkable story here…
Attorney Rob Goldman was one of the many thousands of people inspired by Vicky Ruvolo., and in his particular case, there was an awesome connection – as both a practicing lawyer and a clinical psychologist, Rob has devoted his professional life to the principles of Restorative Justice.
This is an approach to justice that removes vengeance from the process. It focuses solely on the needs of victims and offenders without seeking to satisfy abstract legal principles or blindly inflicting punishment. It emphasizes repairing the harm caused by crime, and in Rob’s experience it is transformational for both victims and offenders.
Never could Rob have imagined a more vivid, real life incarnation of Restorative Justice than Vicky Ruvolo. He was moved to contact her, and the result is an astonishingly successful partnership in community service. Vicky donates her time to the “T.A.S.T.E.” program for youthful offenders in the Suffolk County, N.Y. Probation Department, which Rob created. Together, Vicky and Rob are helping to turn around the lives of hundreds of youngsters, and in the process, are helping to keep their community safe from crime.