RESTORATIVE JUSTICE WEEK 2014 IN NELSON
During Restorative Justice Week in Canada — November 16-23 — 17 local members of the Nelson branch will be joining in a host of events to give the public a hands on look at the program in action.
“Presently 17 applicants were accepted for training to become Restorative Justice facilitators and mentors,” Gerry Sobie, Program Coordinator Nelson Police Department Restorative Justice Program said in a written release.
“They have embarked on an intensive training schedule this fall. This group represents many segments of our society with ages ranging from 20-somethings to seniors, with backgrounds in education, technology, trades and business who bring a passion and commitment to learning and refining appropriate skills.”
Every year Correction Services Canada’s Restorative Justice Division proclaims this time to focus on what communities across Canada are doing to divert criminal matters from the courts and deal with them locally.
Restorative Justice is a philosophy and an approach that views crime and conflict as harm done to people and relationships. It is a non-adversarial, non-retributive approach to justice that emphasizes healing in victims, accountability of offenders and the involvement of citizens in creating healthier, safer communities.
Sobie said a year ago the Nelson Police Department’s Community Policing Officer-Sgt. Dino Falcone-explored ways to bring Restorative Justice to Nelson.
One of Chief Wayne Holland’s priorities, upon being named head of NPD by the Nelson Police Board, is to establish a well-trained group of volunteers who could accept files from his officers for a Restorative Justice option.
Over the past year a volunteer assumed the role as coordinator of this initiative.
Sobie said offenders who take responsibility for their actions meet with those who have been directly affected by a criminal act. Each of them with their supporters comes together in a conference.
They hear from each other what happened, how the crime has affected each person and together explore ways to repair the harm that has been done. After deliberation with all in the circle, an agreement is reached.
The Responsible Person, with the support of a volunteer mentor, works toward fulfilling obligations agreed upon to successfully complete the resolution contract.
The Affected Person has had the opportunity to meet the perpetrator of the crime and state what is needed to repair the harm. The Responsible Person has the opportunity to address an initial bad decision or choice and be reintegrated within our community.
Where the Criminal Justice system promotes a “win-lose” outcome with charges, pleas and court, the Restorative Justice model promotes “win-win” outcomes as all those involved decide how to repair the harm.
The group., which appeared before Nelson City Council Monday to make a presentation on their progress and plans for future development, is also going to be at the Chahko Mika Mall Friday from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Volunteers will be staffing a table to allow the public to learn more about this initiative and what it means for our Nelson community.
The NPD Restorative Justice program will receive its files and referrals internally.
Sobie said the theme of Restorative Justice Week 2014 is “Inspiring Innovation”.
There are significant challenges ahead as this program develops.
However, the volunteers’ commitment to do the work with restorative principles always at the forefront will assure the long term success and stability of this new program dedicated to serve as a viable and sound alternative to the Criminal Justice system.