Here at RJV, we mainly offer restorative justice services, which is a free service to anyone in the Greater Victoria Area. People can be referred to our restorative justice services by someone in the criminal justice system, through a school or organization they are involved with, or they can self-refer. The main focuses of our restorative justice services are to support victims in getting their needs met after they have been harmed, and support offenders in taking responsibility for their actions and making positive changes in their lives. This often looks like one or more opportunities for direct or indirect communication between the victim and offender, as well as an agreement of activities to address the harm that resulted from the offender’s actions, as well as the reasons they are engaged in harmful behaviour within the community. Those who access our services will be meaningfully supported by our staff and caseworkers throughout the process.
Depending on our funding, we sometimes offer other services like group circles. To see what special services we are currently offering, visit our Projects page.
As it relates to our restorative justice services, it is important to note that we build a process that is tailored to you. Our goal is to make our services meet the needs that you have. Below we have provided summaries of the various process options/models we offer. Please be aware that in building a process relevant to the circumstances and needs of your case, we may combine/use elements from more than one of the options outlined below.
If you are the victim of a crime, there are many options available for you in terms of how you participate in the restorative justice process. The options range from no involvement to indirect involvement to full involvement, which can include meeting directly with your offender to discuss the offence and its impacts. You can read more about your participation options here.
Restorative Justice Dialogue (RJD)
This is our default model for most cases. Participants typically include two facilitators, the victim and their supporters, the offender and their supporters, a mentor to the responsible party (mandatory) and to the affected party (optional), and relevant community members or referral representatives. After the facilitators guide the participants through structured and unstructured conversation, a consensus-based agreement is created that focuses on repairing the harm and addressing contributing factors of the offence.
Community Accountability Dialogue (CAD)
This model is similar to RJDs, but is used in cases with no participating or identifiable victim. Participants typically involve two facilitators; the offender and their supporters; a mentor to the responsible party; and relevant community members or referral representatives. In CADs we also often use a surrogate victim, which is someone who has been impacted by a similar offence, to assist the offender in better understanding the impacts of their actions.
This model is typically unscripted and organic. It can handle very deep issues and has been used by RJV to address anything from a school dispute to a traffic fatality. Participants are generally the same as an RJD, though circles can accommodate large numbers of people. A defining characteristic of a peacemaking circle is a talking piece, which gives participants the chance to speak for as long as they wish without interruption from others. It gets passed around the circle, making the order of speaking fair, cyclical, and predictable.
Victim Healing Circles
This model is similar to a peacemaking circle but does not include the offender. This may be due to the offender never being caught, not being appropriate or available for restorative justice, or the victim not wanting them to participate. Circle participants are determined by the victim and may include the victim’s supporter(s), others impacted by the offence (e.g., witnesses or neighbours), relevant professionals (e.g., victim service workers), and justice professionals (e.g., police, Crown, or probation). The goal is typically to provide support, validation, and closure to the victim.
In general, there are four stages to our processes:
Intake and assessment: Once the case is referred to us, it’s assessed for appropriateness. This entails the case manager reaching out to the offender, victim, and others where relevant, to explore the option of restorative justice and determine if it’s a good fit. A team of caseworkers is then assigned.
Preparation: During this stage, the participants work with the caseworkers to prepare for a dialogue that the offender will attend to formally discuss their offence and the harms they have caused others. The victim is invited to attend this dialogue but may choose not to, or may decide to participate in another way, for example by writing a statement, sending someone on their behalf, or attending virtually with their camera on or off. If victims do not want to attend the dialogue in person but still want to participate in some way, we will work with them during the preparation stage to identify creative options that would accommodate them.
Dialogue: This is a meeting that the offender participates in, along with others affected by the crime who want to be present, including the victim, to discuss the offence, the harms caused by it, and what contributed to the offender’s behaviour to prevent it from reoccurring. At the end of the dialogue an agreement is developed through consensus regarding how the offender can best address both the harms resulting from and the causes of the offence.
Agreement follow-through: During this stage, the offender completes the terms of their agreement, and victims and the referring agency are kept updated on their progress.
Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any details you feel like sharing initially (even if it is just a request to arrange a meeting) or call our office phone at 250-383-5801.
For yourself: You don’t need to know whether you want to proceed with a restorative justice process to contact us. We are here to explore this option with you and help you determine whether restorative justice is an appropriate avenue in your case.
As a service provider or a supporter: You can email us for more information about our services to bring back to your client or loved one. If you want to make a referral, meaning you are providing their contact information to us so that we may reach out to them, please make sure to have asked their permission first.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s common to have a lot of questions if you are thinking about restorative justice as an option. Each of our FAQ pages has detailed information, so we encourage you to check them out. You can also reach out to us if you have specific questions about your situation.