Restorative justice is an interesting form of law that seeks to make things right for victims of crimes or 'restore' their lives to how they were before the criminal activity. The approach is unique in how it focuses on the needs of all parties involved, encouraging offenders to make amends with victims by repairing the damage that they may have caused. With this type of penance, the victim, offender, and community at large all work together to come up with the best possible outcome for everyone. |
Fort St. John, Canada decided as a town to christen November 17-24 Restorative Justice Week. The purpose is to bring national and international awareness to the methodology of restorative justice, and to foster an open dialogue between community leaders and citizens.
Rather than looking to the expensive option of the court system to settle disputes, restorative justice as practiced in Fort St. John takes the view that crime and conflict are harmful both to people and relationships. The emphasis is on healing victims rather than punishing offenders. Perpetrators are still held accountable for their actions, but the primary focus of the philosophy is to care for the victims and use community involvement to police the entire process.
The theme for this year's celebration of the movement was inspiring innovation. This topic encouraged organizers and citizens alike to take a good, hard look at cutting edge methods that are being used worldwide to implement restorative justice on a municipal, provincial, and federal level. The hope is that locals will be motivated to share new ideas on the philosophy, but even more than that, to also get involved in their communities and contribute to the effort in any way possible.
This community-centered process of taking care of both victims and offenders of crimes is not only popular in Canada, it is a worldwide phenomenon. Throughout the world, the movement focuses on the harm that crime causes rather than the criminal activity itself. By fostering communication between offenders and victims, victims are not only repaid for their loss, but offenders' lives are radically transformed in many cases.
The movement has many positive effects on not only victims and offenders of crimes, but on the community as a whole. It decreases, for example, prison and court overload that can be a heavy burden on the justice system and taxpayers alike. It also allows the victims to enjoy a new and useful role in administering justice. Not only that, the philosophy also forces offenders to face the real people that their crimes have affected and gives them the opportunity to actively own up to the crime and make an effort to fix the situation. Finally, this movement drastically reduces court costs, helps crime victims heal from the trauma of the crime, and leaves victims and offenders both feeling satisfied that real lawfulness had been achieved. Victims are content with the fact that they have been sufficiently repaid for the wrong that was done to them, while offenders are satisfied that there punishment does, indeed, fit the crime that they committed.
Restorative justice is gaining more notoriety in Canada and around the world. To learn more, visit: http://www.iirp.edu.
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