Provinces in Canada have been experimenting with new approaches to justice for several decades, through programs on restorative justice. What is restorative justice? This article introduces the basic principles of that approach.
|Mediate2go.com: Principles of Restorative Justice|
- Understanding the impact of the harmful behaviour: Appropriate response to crime requires the focus to be on the harm caused by crime and the full effects of the criminal behavior. Crime is not seen only as a legal issue (breaking the law). The process of restorative justice provides space to address damage to individuals, their property, their relationships and their communities. There is also an acknowledgement of harm created by the criminal justice process itself.
- Inclusion: All people affected by the crime are engaged in the restorative justice process, including the victim, offender, their individual support people and the community.
- Accountability: The process of restorative justice allows the offender to take responsibility for the harm created by their actions, directly to those harmed, including recognition of what occurred and corrective actions to address the harm done, to the degree possible. Through the hearing of all points of view, the community also has an opportunity to see its role in contributing to the crime.
- Safety: This aspect is defined as 1) the need to restore a sense of security to those impacted by the crime and 2) the need to create processes of restorative justice that are safe, respect the rights of participants and address power imbalances.
- Transformation: The long term goal of restorative justice is to provide opportunities for healing, personal growth, reparation of harm and restoration of positive relationships.
- Voluntary: Participants can choose whether to participate and can also make choices to influence the process design.
- Humanistic: Restorative justice is based on values of respect, compassion, dignity, honesty, openness, and growth. Fairness and equality/equity are also essential, as well as taking into account the multicultural issues.
- Interaction: Communication, either direct or indirect, between those impacted by the crime is typically required.
- Holistic: These processes take into consideration and value the full breadth of each individual participant as well as the larger context in which they function. This includes appreciation of the physical, psychological, mental, emotional, spiritual and social context surrounding each person as well as the environment.
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- Canadian Restorative Justice Consortium http://crjc.ca/membership/
- Public Safety Canada: http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/cntrng-crm/crrctns/rstrtv-jstc-eng.aspx
- Restorative Justice in Canada: what victims should know (by the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime) http://www.rjlillooet.ca/documents/restjust.pdf
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