Restorative justice is transforming lives and communities

Many of us know the value of a second chance. I know I do

Mike Morris

Many of us know the value of a second chance. I know I do. As a young man, I was fortunate to meet a willing neighbour who became a valued mentor.

Without his guidance, my life may have taken a different turn and I may not be in the position that I am today.

Later, during my 32-year career as an RCMP officer, I was reminded time and again that crime isn’t just about an offender breaking laws. Crime affects victims and relationships, and can impact entire communities.

Restorative justice is more than a second chance. It holds offenders meaningfully accountable for their actions. It offers victims the opportunity to meet offenders in person, a process many describe as transformative. Each year, Crown counsel, schools and police refer more than 1,400 files to more than 40 RJ programs throughout the province. Volunteers and staff devote more than 70,000 hours to these cases.

A common misconception is that RJ is only for minor crimes, first-time offenders and youth. In fact, this approach can be applied at many different stages – from school responses to conflict to various stages of the criminal justice system – pre-charge, with Crown counsel through to post-sentencing.

It can be especially effective when there is a victim who can speak personally to harm that was caused. One such story involves a couple whose 27-year-old son Graeme was abducted, held captive for six days and succumbed to his injuries after being released. Devastated, the couple contacted a restorative justice program and learned why it’s important to meet the offenders face-to-face to share stories about their son, providing the key players in the kidnapping and murder with a complete picture of Graeme’s life. The parents also needed to learn about the offenders’ lives.

They visited the offenders in a federal institution and urged them to dig deep, take responsibility for their roles. At least two of them turned their lives around. As for Graeme’s parents, this allowed their healing process to begin.

During a visit to Abbotsford Restorative Justice and Advocacy Association, I heard from a teacher who participated in the RJ process as a victim, due to an inappropriate action directed at her by one of her students. They took part in a reintegration circle; a sincere apology was made and a sense of community was restored. She described the experience as powerful and transformative.

The Province and the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General support this work in a number of ways. Since 2012, $621,316 in civil forfeiture grant funding has been invested in RJ programs. As well, more than $330,000 in community gaming grants funding went to restorative justice organizations in 2015-16. My ministry is also supporting 10 projects that are increasing the number of complex and diverse cases that can be referred to RJ.

I encourage all British Columbians to be open to the idea that there is more than one way to achieve justice. Restorative justice provides an opportunity to help transform the lives of victims, offenders and even communities.

– Mike Morris is B.C.’s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

 

 

Just Posted

RCMP looking for grain haulers dumping grain on roadside pull-outs

Illegal practice happening on Highway 5 between Valemount and Avola

Personal Development Weekend Retreat coming up

By K.A. Pendergast Have you ever been stressed? I am sure most… Continue reading

MayDay Parade Theme is “Clearwater Life”

Parade takes place May 18 and starts at Capostinsky Park

Back in Time

Historical Perspective

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

B.C. RCMP receive application for Police Cat Services

RCMP announced the launch of the Police Cat Services unit as an April fools joke

Kirkland Signature veggie burgers recalled due to possible metal fragments

Recalled products came in 1.7 kg packages with a best before date of Apr. 23, 2019

Chaos at the ferry terminal for people heading from Vancouver to the Island

Easter crowds create backlog at Tsawwassen ferry terminal

Parents of 13 who tortured children get life after hearing victims

One of their daughters fled their home and pleaded for help to a 911 operator

Flooding, climate change force Quebecers to rethink relationship with water

Compensation for victims of recurring floods limit to 50% of a home’s value, or a maximum of $100,000

Storms blast South, where tornadoes threaten several states

9.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia at a moderate risk of severe weather

Private cargo ship brings Easter feast to the space station

There are three Americans two Russians and one Canadian living on the space station

Notre Dame rector: “Computer glitch” possible fire culprit

The fire burned through the lattice of oak beams supporting the monument’s vaulted stone ceiling

Most Read