RESTORATIVE JUSTICE AND THE POLICE
- Police referrals to assist young offenders in taking responsibility for their actions and to repair the harm done to victims and the community, encouraging them to understand, accept and carry out their obligations
- Police referrals for children, and Crown and/or Police referrals for adults involved with minor crimes, on the same basis
- Support for those harmed by crime and wrongdoing, enabling them to express the impact of the crime, and what is needed to make things right
- Opportunities for dialogue, direct or indirect, between victims and offenders as appropriate
- Support for program participants in finding satisfactory resolutions that are fair, timely, proportionate, and meaningful. This includes a restitution plan with follow-through to make amends and repair the harm
- We access community resources to provide support and help for those referred to our Association
Our program is designed to provide facilitated Community Group Conferences and /or Victim-Offender Mediation that will enable the offender and the victim to meet in a safe, controlled environment. This enables the offender to take responsibility for his/her actions, and to take steps to repair the harm and damage caused by his/her behaviour. In addition, victims are provided with an opportunity to express how the offence has affected them, and to have any questions answered that will assist them in their healing process.
Conferences only take place after the ARJAA team has met with all the parties individually and assessed that it is safe and reasonable to proceed to a face-to-face meeting. The conference also enable the parents of a young person to be part of the restoration process, along with other members of the community who have been affected by the offence. Together, all conference participants (with the guidance of a mediator) discuss and work together to create fair and proportionate resolution agreements that will be of positive benefit to the person who committed the act, both for reparation and for a disincentive to offend again.
Reintegrating the offender back into the community is a vital dimension of restorative justice, and is accomplished when the individual regrets his crime and makes amends by carrying out the restorative contract developed during the conference. These actions coupled with the support and supervision of the ARJAA volunteer bring about the resolution of past issues, restoration with the community and empowerment to build on these new positive experiences and relationships.
Consistent with the principles of restorative justice, our priority is to:
- Hold victim involvement as central
- Ensure preparation and safety for all participants
- Facilitate dialogue among the persons involved
- Strive for reintegration of the offender along with accountability
- Ensure adequate resources for reparation and reintegration
- Ensure that conference outcomes are practical, fair and agreed upon by all parties
ARJAA is committed to serving Abbotsford youth. Through timely intervention, conferencing, community interaction and accountability, our organization has the ability to redirect youth at a crucial point in order that they become productive and contributing citizens.
In addition to the above, ARJAA is committed to fulfilling government requirements regarding restorative justice programs, such as:
- accepting referrals for category 3 and 4 offences only (less serious crimes)
- conducting criminal checks on volunteers
- maintaining strict confidentiality on the part of volunteers; maintaining confidentiality standards amongst participants in
Community Group Conferences
- training our volunteers to function skillfully, effectively and with professionalism
- developing systems of evaluation to determine: the satisfaction level of conference participants; attitudinal change on the part of young offenders and victims; effectiveness of volunteer mediators; effectiveness of our program
- maintaining appropriate records of referral files in cooperation with police procedures regarding the handling of information
- ensuring that all participants are treated with courtesy, dignity and respect at all times
We are committed to excellence in the delivery of our services to the community. Each participant is provided opportunity to give feedback on their experience with our program. Mediators provide feedback on each case and debrief with the Executive Director regularly throughout the process.
In addition, we work closely with the Criminology Department of the University College of the Fraser Valley to develop program evaluative criteria, tools and mechanisms. Our community stakeholders also provide advice and perspective to ensure that we remain effective and accountable.