Guest View: Restorative justice: Transforming communities

The following is an opinion-editorial written by Minister of Public Safety and Attorney General Mike Morris.

The following is an opinion-editorial written by    Minister of Public Safety and Attorney General Mike Morris.

Editor:

In British Columbia, we have a long history of inspiring and promoting new ways of achieving justice. During Restorative Justice Week, Nov. 20-27, 2016, I have the opportunity to share some of the important work being done by the province’s leading restorative justice (RJ) organizations.

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, Minister of Public Safety

 

 

Just Posted

“Does Kirby care?” Heiltsuk Nation using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

Redesign Rupert holds four-day workshop to reimagine the city

A condensed downtown core and waterfront access among the topics discussed

A new vessel from the Gitga’at First Nation will be sailing into Prince Rupert’s harbour

The transporter vessel will bring back materials, food and medicine for the Hartley Bay community

Prince Rupert Library recognizes National Indigenous History Month

Friends of the Library Book Club puts the focus on Indigenous authors and reconciliation

VIDEO: Prince Rupert pair recipients of B.C. Community Achievement Awards

Nancy and Gunther Golinia recognized for lifelong pursuit helping local wildlife

VIDEO: Smiles all around at Dance Academy of Prince Rupert

Spotlight on DAPR’s Broadway summer camp as they perform a number from the hit musical Annie

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs have been sold

Victoria company has purchased BCHL team, but will keep it in Port Alberni

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

After B.C. dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Two toddler siblings found drowned on First Nation in Alberta

The siblings were found drowned on their family’s property, according to RCMP

Chiefs honour Indigenous leader wrongfully hanged in B.C. 154 years ago today

Chief Joe Alphonse says they want his remains returned to his homeland in B.C.’s Cariboo region

Most Read