How does it work?
The restorative justice process is an inclusive one that addresses the needs of both offender and victim. With the guidance of a trained facilitator, all parties involved, including supporters, are brought together in a safe and neutral environment to resolve the matter at hand. The group has the opportunity to learn and understand how and why the incident came to be, and explore the best course of action to repair the harms done. The group collectively decides how to resolve the incident.
Using Restorative Justice
Crime, disputes, or harms done can’t always be left up to the professionals to resolve. Restorative Justice brings community back into the resolution process. It is a process that allows a community to instill its values and seek outcomes that are meaningful to everyone involved. It is a process that allows for healing and reintegration and restores a sense of safety and community harmony.
Restorative Justice gives the power back to the victims of crime. It does this by giving victims the opportunity to safely express how they have been affected or how the crime has changed their lives. They are given the power to decide how the incident should be resolved, giving them a greater opportunity for healing and closure.
Restorative Justice allows offenders to be accountable for their actions. It allows them to take responsibility for their crime, and also be responsible for repairing damaged relationships by discussing the incident and learning how the victim was affected.
Is Restorative Justice Right for you?
If you have been the victim of a crime, no matter how small or serious, and would like to:
- confront the offender(s) with how you feel and how you have been affected;
- ask why the offender caused you harm;
- take part in the resolution process;
- have a resolution that is personal or meaningful to you;
- keep the matter out of the public courts;
- attain closure and healing from the harms caused,
Then Restorative Justice may be the right choice for you.
If you have committed a crime, involved in a dispute, or caused harm and you:
- want to take responsibility and be accountable for what you did;
- are feeling sorry for what you did and regret your actions;
- want to tell your victim you are sorry and make amends for what you did;
- want to settle the matter out of the public courts;
- want to avoid a permanent criminal label and record,
Then Restorative Justice may be the right choice for you
How do I qualify for the Restorative Justice program?
Referrals can be made to the Restorative Justice program by a police officer, a business representative, school staff, or a community member. It will be at the discretion of the Program Coordinator to decide if the referral is appropriate for the program.
At the time an incident is reported, the police may offer the option of restorative justice to both the victim and offender. This decision is at the discretion of the officer at the time of arrest.
If the victim, a business for example, knows of the restorative justice process already, they can choose this process and advise police of their wishes to refer to the RJ program.
Schools can refer to the RJ program for disputes, bullying, or other incidents that happen on or to school property that may or may not require police intervention.
Any community members who fall victim to a crime such as theft, mischief, assault, fraud, etc. can request to use the restorative justice process without involving police. This may be an appropriate option when a family member, your own child, a neighbor or neighbor’s child caused the harm and you do not wish to call the police.
Restorative justice can be incorporated into a Court sentence – usually to allow the victim to express the effects of the crime on them and to seek resolution specific to them and aid with closure in the matter.
Most importantly, THIS PROCESS IS VOLUNTARY for offender and victim. If you, as a victim, are unsure about agreeing to participate and feel you need time to decide, you DO NOT have to agree at the moment the officer presents the option to you.
Restorative Justice is Beneficial to Victims’ Healing and Promotes Community Harmony
Benefits for Victim
Provides chance to be heard:
Victims are given the opportunity to express to the offender how their actions affected them.
Removes the fear of re-victimization:
Once victims have heard the whole story, they are often reassured in knowing that the incident will not reoccur.
Offers insights into the reason behind the offending:
Often, the whole story is not understood, or the reasoning behind the offender’s actions is not understood, until explained throughout the Restorative Justice process.
Often, victims do not understand why this crime has happened to them. By being given the opportunity to ask questions, their curiosity is satisfied.
The traditional court system can often go on for a long period of time and months can pass before any results are seen. With restorative justice this is not the case, often files are closed as little as a week.
Outcomes are specific to you:
It is up to the individuals involved in the circle to come up with a plan for fixing the harm done. Every outcome is unique to the specific offence. For example, the victim may simply want an apology letter while others ask for community hours.
De-certifies the person as a victim:
In the court system you are actually referred to as a victim, however, the restorative justice program helps to remove the label as a victim by instead referring to you as the person(s) harmed, and also by giving you a say and control over the outcome.
Restores stability and trust in people:
Crime affects victims’ trust in people, and creates discord within the community; whereas restorative justice practices work to repair and restore stability and trust.
Offers a chance for disclosure:
Having questions answered during the process promotes closure and healing.
Benefits for Offenders
Provides alternative to adversarial or traditional court process
Offers chance to have a say:
Often offenders are not given the opportunity to be heard and explain the reasons behind their actions. The Restorative Justice Program allows them this opportunity.
The Restorative Justice Program has the ability to connect offenders with various community supports as needed to address the reasons behind their offending.
Offers full reintegration:
This happens when the victims are willing to accept apologies and willing to move forward without placing labels on the offender.
Grants atonement through owning up to behavior:
This is a chance for the offender to make amends, or make things right.
Ensures communication is in a co-operative manner:
We provide a safe and controlled environment in order to resolve the matter at hand.
Deals with results of behavior:
We focus on the action of the person rather than the person’s character and find ways to avoid this behavior in the future.
Gains insight and understanding:
The person who caused the harm can learn how their actions have affected other people in ways that they may not have expected.
Portrays whole person:
We look at the person as a whole rather than defining them by their actions. Rather than labelling you as an offender, you are referred to during the process as the person(s) who caused the harm in that situation.
Reduces chance of reoffending:
By connecting offenders with positive supports and mentors within the community, they gain the relationships to move forward in a positive manner.
Avoids criminal record:
When an agreement is reached and the terms of the agreement are complete then there will not be a criminal record.