Restora­tive Jus­tice: build­ing a re­spon­sive jus­tice sys­tem

Tri-County Vanguard - - OPINION -

The fol­low­ing is an op-ed from Nova Sco­tia Jus­tice Min­is­ter Mark Furey.

Imag­ine what it might be like if those af­fected by crime could be part of a plan to work to­wards re­pair­ing the harm. What if there was a way for ev­ery­one to have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the im­pact that a crime had on in­di­vid­u­als and com­mu­nity?

We have that now in Nova Sco­tia’s Restora­tive Jus­tice Pro­gram.

Nov. 18 to 24 marked Restora­tive Jus­tice Week in Canada – a time to re­flect on how our jus­tice sys­tem is mov­ing to be more open in deal­ing with crime and con­flict.

We all know that crime can im­pact our safety, se­cu­rity and well-be­ing. Crime can im­pact the lives of fam­i­lies and loved ones. Restora­tive jus­tice re­sponds by hav­ing those re­spon­si­ble for the crime be part of a process to re­pair harm.

Ev­ery restora­tive jus­tice case is dif­fer­ent, how­ever, ev­ery­one im­pacted by the crime can be part of mak­ing things bet­ter. Restora­tive jus­tice looks at why a crime oc­curred, how it im­pacts peo­ple and de­vel­ops de­tailed ac­tions that gets at the rea­sons why a crime oc­curred and helps ad­dress the hurt done.

For the past 20 years Nova Sco­tia has been tak­ing a restora­tive ap­proach in our jus­tice sys­tem. Since the pro­gram was launched in 1999, more than 25,000 cases have gone through restora­tive jus­tice. Eval­u­a­tions have shown to re­duce re­peat of­fences by 12 per cent.

The key to our suc­cess is that many parts of the jus­tice sys­tem have worked to­gether. This in­cludes po­lice, the court sys­tem, the ju­di­ciary, pub­lic pros­e­cu­tion ser­vices, cor­rec­tional ser­vices, restora­tive jus­tice agen­cies across the prov­ince and the Mi’kmaq Le­gal Sup­port Net­work. All these groups sup­port restora­tive jus­tice by work­ing with all of those in­volved. This work leads to pos­i­tive out­comes for health­ier re­la­tion­ships and com­mu­ni­ties - things that ben­e­fit us all.

This suc­cess has led us to use a restora­tive ap­proach in other ways out­side the jus­tice sys­tem. We now use it in schools across the prov­ince and in the pub­lic in­quiry for the Nova Sco­tia Home for Coloured Chil­dren.

As a prov­ince, we will con­tinue to ex­plore new and in­no­va­tive ways to take a restora­tive ap­proach to ben­e­fit all Nova Sco­tians. Nova Sco­tia’s lead­er­ship in restora­tive jus­tice is founded on one of great­est re­sources – peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties that care about re­la­tion­ships.

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