Restorative justice seeks to repair the harm caused by crime and violence.
In this approach, crime is seen not only as breaking the law, but as a violation of people and relationships, which disrupts the peace of a community. In a restorative justice process, everyone affected by an offence is invited to participate in a discussion regarding what happened, who has been affected and how, and what the offender can do to make things right and address the root causes of their crime. The goals of our work are to address victim needs, hold offenders meaningfully accountable for their actions, and prevent further harm. In order to do so, offenders must first accept responsibility for their role in the offence and the harm that they caused. Victims must also choose to voluntarily participate.
Every restorative justice process is unique; therefore, who participates is determined on a case by case basis. In a restorative justice meeting some or all of the following may be present:
- The victim and his/her supporters
- The offender and his/her supporters
- Community representatives
- The meeting facilitators
- The investigating police officer(s)
The following principles guide our restorative justice work:
- Participation is based on informed consent; all parties must knowingly agree to the process.
- Participation is voluntary for both the victim and offender.
- Consent to participate may be withdrawn by either party at any stage in the process.
- Dignity, respect and fair treatment are all important to participation, along with recognizing the harm caused.
- The safety and security of the participants is ensured at all stages of the process.
- Cultural and diversity factors and power imbalances are taken into account at all stages of the process.
- The facts must support a criminal charge and prosecution must not be barred at law.
- The parties must accept as true the essential facts of the crime, and the offender must be willing to take responsibility for the crime and harm done to the victim.
- Confidentiality is maintained.
- Any agreement reached by the parties must be entered into voluntarily.
Adapted from www.mrjc.ca