The North Peace Justice Society is non-profit organization in Fort St. John, B.C., serving the North Peace area. Our primary program is the Restorative Justice Program.
Restorative Justice: A Fresh Approach
Restorative justice is a view of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by conflict and crime. The Restorative Justice Program is an alternative to the formal Court process for certain criminal offences as well as an option for resolution of civil disputes. The program follows the RCMP model of community justice forums (CJF).
Restorative Justice Program
The program aims to facilitate community healing when a crime has been committed or harm has been done. Trained facilitators bring together the person(s) who caused the harm, the person(s) harmed, supporters and any other affected community member to discuss the matter, explore the underlying cause(s) of the occurrence, and understand how those harmed have been affected. Participants collectively decide on meaningful reparations for the harm that has been done.
Community Justice Forum
The Community Justice Forum (CJF) is a safe, controlled environment in which the person(s) who caused the harm, the person(s) harmed and their families or supporters are brought together under the guidance of a trained facilitator. This is usually done in a circle formation so all participants can see each other and direct conversation to the entire group.
The group jointly discusses the offence and how it has affected each of them, then together develop a plan to correct what has occurred. “Righting the wrong” can involve a simple apology and restitution for the person(s) harmed. Other agreements may include community service work, counselling, or addictions treatment for those who caused the harm. Each case has a resolution unique to that situation.
In a CJF those who caused harm must accept responsibility for their own actions. They are confronted with how their behaviour personally affected the people harmed, and they hear directly from those who were harmed. This is often the beginning of healing for all involved and the beginning of reintegrating the individuals who caused harm into the community as an accepted and productive member.
When the people who have been harmed are able to safely express how they have been affected by what has happened and then see and hear genuine expressions of remorse, they often accept and forgive. This can bring the closure they need to put the matter behind them and help them to move on with their lives.