According to a release by the Oceanside RCMP, the third week of November is nationally recognized as Restorative Justice Week.
In the release, Cpl. Jesse Foreman said that the Arrowsmith Community Justice Society (ACJS) has operated a restorative justice and community dispute program in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area for 21 years.
When a crime occurs, those involved can be diverted to the ACJS by the RCMP. Both the victim and the offender must agree to participate, otherwise the incident will return to the RCMP for alternative dispensation.
The meeting happens within 30 days of the criminal incident and the resolution is completed within 90 days.
The victim is given the opportunity to directly ask the offender any questions they have. They are also part of the restitution process and has input into what they feel is fair and reasonable.
The offender is given a quick process and has input into the resolution decision, so they’re more likely to complete it. The most significant benefit to the offender is that once the resolution is complete, they do not have a criminal record for this incident, and gives them the opportunity to take accountability of their actions.
The Restorative Justice program is manned by volunteers and does not involve fees to participate.
Over the 21 years, ACJS has processed 876 offenders through restorative justice. The number of community service hours totals 4,188 which equals $42,000 of value going back into the community. Many victims do not want financial benefit and therefore, opt to donate their restitution. As a result, to date, $16,200 has been donated to various local charities.
— NEWS Staff, submitted