WALKING AFTER MIDNIGHT : ONE WOMAN'S JOURNEY THROUGH MURDER, JUSTICE AND FORGIVENESS by Katy Hutchison (Raincoast), 272 pages, $32.95 cloth. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
In walking after midnight, katy Hutchison writes passionately and convincingly about breaking through the barriers between victims and criminals to make real change outside of the deeply flawed prison model.
Hutchison's first husband, Bob, was kicked to death by a group of drunk teenagers when he checked on a neighbour's house party. Though rocked by grief and devastation, Hutchison did not seek revenge or payment, even while the youth of Squamish, BC, banded together to protect the boys who dealt the lethal blows. It took five years for an arrest to stick.
She focused instead on a radical concept: forgiveness, social responsibility and personal transformation through restorative justice. While dealing with a lengthy legal battle, she toured high schools, detention and community centres, reaching out to teenagers about violence, anger and the perils of drug and alcohol abuse.
Five years after Bob's death, Ryan Aldridge confessed to the murder. Hutchison insisted on meeting him to let him know how his choices had affected her family. Aldridge, deeply moved by her decision to communicate with him, wrote compelling letters of apology, took responsibility and chose to engage in his own rehabilitation.
Hutchison advocated for his parole, and Ryan eventually joined her on her speaking engagements. Their connection became a powerful example of the way the restorative justice model can work.
Tell-all tales of personal loss, often written by people seeking profit or fame, can smack of sensationalism. In this case, the first quarter of the book is so devastating, it's easy for readers to want revenge.
But Walking After Midnight turns into a practical how-to book on restorative justice, a step-by-step examination of how it can work, and work well.
A transformative read for anyone who has ever thought about what it means to forgive.
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