> Justice-seeking, late bloomer comes to SFU on award

Justice-seeking, late bloomer comes to SFU on award

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Tamera Jenkins, 816.547.0108, tamera.jenkins@park.edu
Liz Elliott, 778.782.4730, eelliott@sfu.ca
Carol Thorbes, PAMR, 778.782.3035, cthorbes@sfu.ca

June 16, 2010

A self-described late bloomer, Tamera Jenkins of Independence, Missouri in the United States is using her new Fulbright Student Award to study at the Centre for Restorative Justice in Simon Fraser University’s School of Criminology.

Valued at up to $20,000 U.S., including travel and cultural orientation expenses, the competition for the American government’s flagship international educational exchange award is highly competitive. It will enable Jenkins, a pioneering criminologist in the making, to pursue a master’s degree in criminal justice at SFU and realize her dream—to help victim-offender mediation take root back home.

“SFU’s School of Criminology is one of the top criminal justice teaching and research centres in the world,” says the grandmother of three and mother of two children. “Canada is a pioneer in the field of restorative justice and the Correctional Service of Canada supports a number of restorative justice initiatives in their federal prisons that don’t exist in the U.S.”

Working with the Fraser Region Community Justice Initiatives, a non-profit society based in Langley, B.C., Jenkins will compare the recidivism rates in the U.S.’s retribution-based correctional system with those in Canada’s victim-offender mediation programs. Her analysis will include a review of federal prisoners’ criminal histories and levels of participation in restorative or rehabilitative programs during their incarceration.

During internships at a federal prison and a county prosecutor’s office in Missouri, Jenkins came to the conclusion that victim-offender mediation is sorely needed to improve the chances of offenders’ reintegration into American communities.

“In restorative justice, all parties, including victims, come together to work out what they believe is right. Otherwise it is a revolving door with criminals entering and exiting prison,” says Jenkins who did her undergraduate studies in criminal justice with a focus on corrections in Missouri. “In the U.S. we like to say we rehabilitate criminals while they are in prison, but the statistics don’t bear that to be true.”

Liz Elliott, co-director of SFU’s Centre for Restorative Justice and Jenkins’ graduate supervisor says: “Tamera’s research on victim-offender mediation in cases involving violent offences is valuable. It will build on new evidence that restorative justice works best with violent crimes rather than minor ones with no individual victim. Restorative justice is frequently misconstrued as a criminal justice add-on program that should only be used with young, non-violent first- time offenders.”

Forty-nine-year-old Jenkins, who waited until her 18-year-old son finished high school before launching herself into academia, says: “My entire life has been spent in Missouri. It’s time my husband of 30 years and I spread our wings not just outside of our hometown, but also outside of our country. Our grown children aren’t sure what has gotten into mom and dad.”



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