This year the Nelson Police Department restorative justice program celebrates Restorative Justice Week by hosting a free, educational, interactive event at the Nelson Public Library on Thursday, Nov. 19 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Correction Services Canada’s restorative justice division proclaims the third week in November to focus on the important work being done by restorative justice programs in communities across Canada.
A non-adversarial, non-retributive approach to justice that views crime and conflict as harm done to people and relationships,restorative justice is a philosophy that emphasizes healing in victims, accountability of offenders, and the involvement of citizens.
Upon taking up his position in 2011, Nelson Police Chief Wayne Holland made the establishment of a restorative justice program a top priority. Gerry Sobie, a volunteer restorative justice consultant and trainer, along with Nelson PoliceDepartment’s community policing officer, Sgt. Dino Falcone, worked to make that vision a reality, and the Nelson PoliceDepartment restorative justice program was launched in April 2014.
After four months of training, volunteers have taken on files involving such crimes as theft, assault, mischief, and break and enter. They are acquiring and refining the skills required to handle complex files and emotionally challenging situations. At present, 15 trained volunteers from a cross-section of the community, with backgrounds in education, technology, trades and business, have successfully completed 22 files, with three files in progress.
The program’s volunteer restorative justice practitioners bring together those who have been affected by crime, those who are responsible for the harm, their respective supporters and other stakeholders into a conference designed to empower all participants to share their experience and explore ways to repair the harm. A resolution agreement is carefully drafted based on the collaborative efforts of all participants.
Through restorative justice, a unique understanding about harm and its effects is reached between the responsible person and the affected person. Where the criminal justice system promotes a win-lose outcome with charges, pleas and court, the restorative justice model promotes win-win outcomes with those involved making decisions about how the harm can be repaired.
The evening will be a valuable experience for people with any level of knowledge. Refreshments will be provided.