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

Kurka keeps thing official

The longtime hockey referee has been on the ice in Prince Rupert for more than 30 years

Rampaging toward the playoffs

The Prince Rupert Rampage beat the Terrace River Kings 8-5 on Jan. 20

Sweet tradition returns: Sugar Shack 2018

The 2018 Sugar Shack festival celebrates Francophone culture in Prince Rupert Jan. 24-27

Joie de vivre

Finding those “awe” moments with family, friends and food

Christians unite for one service in Rupert

Father Terry Brock is hoping to unite all of Prince Rupert’s Christians under one roof for one night

VIDEO: New whale rescue equipment comes to Rupert

Fisheries officers took to the water to practice saving stranded whales

Carriers wanted for the Northern View

We have open routes for carriers all over Prince Rupert

Complaint against Prince George RCMP in death of Wet’suwet’en man

Thirty-five year old Dale Culver died while in Prince George RCMP custody last summer.

Philadelphia Eagles headed to Super Bowl

After routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington on Vancouver Island

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, vehicles buried under more than three feet of snow

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Most Read