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Russ Kelly - From Scoundrel to Scholar

  • Broadcast in Lifestyle
Herb Blake

Herb Blake


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Russ Kelly was orphaned at a young age and angry at the unfairness of his situation, devastated by the death of his mother, Russ became a confused teenager desperately searching for ways to flee his emotional pain. He developed a growing reliance on drugs and alcohol. Further, his behaviour increasingly led him to be somewhat of a mainstay in local courtrooms.

Russ  was an offender in The Elmira Case, a well-known case of serial vandalism.  He is recognized as being the first offender in Canada to enter a court sanctioned restorative process in 1974. The crime spree is best described as a 2-hour vandalism rampage by a couple of teenagers in a drunken haze. Subsequently, upon their arrest the two confessed and agreed to meet their victims face-to-face, apologise, and pay for the damage.The success of this experimental alternative to incarceration was the starting point of restorative justice within the criminal justice system in Canada, which quickly spread to the USA and several countries around the globe.