When the Restorative Justice Bill 2016 is passed in Parliament, a prisoner will benefit from the process of being appropriately restored within his community. This was the response from the Hon. Delroy Chuck, Minister of Justice who was answering a question from an attendee at the fourth Justice Sensitization Session held at the Ministry of Justice, on September 20.
The event hosted over One Hundred attendees who benefitted from presentations on Restorative Justice, Mediation, Victim Services, Human Trafficking, Drug Abuse, Youth Risk Assessment and Case Management, Legal Aid and Child Diversion.
Minister Chuck explained that Restorative Justice will be offered at all different levels (from the community to the courts), “not only at the beginning, from the quarrel starts, but also at the courts; before and even after trial. Also, if a person is sentenced to prison, there will be some Restorative Justice being brought to the prisons to allow preparation for re-integration in society”.
He also said the process has to be implemented in the prison so that when the person is set free when they return to their communities they can be accepted. “It’s a difficult process, but to the extent that we can sensitize the community to receive them, so that the community does not see them as outcasts when they return.”
Turning his attention to another legislative provision to be introduced, Minister Chuck said, “We have an amendment to the Plea Bargaining legislation and the idea is to ensure that people who admit to their guilt and accept say a five or ten year sentence, may be if they are tried, and would be sentenced to 15 or 20 years. Those are the sort of persons, I believe are easier (to be restored) because they have admitted and are asking for forgiveness.”
However Minister Chuck was quick to point out that those who pose greater difficulty to work with, on the path of restoration, are those who hold on to their innocence despite the strong evidence that proves otherwise. “Those who are willing to admit their guilt those are the ones who I think, I feel, we can work with. Those who are in denial, it’s going to be very difficult,” said the Minister.
Mrs. Carol Palmer, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice reminded, “The fact is though, the law is still in Parliament, it was passed in the Lower House. It is now to be dealt with in the Senate and the law contemplates having Restorative Justice in the prison as part of the re-integration process.
You would work with the person who is incarcerated as well as the community from which they came. There is a meeting of the minds, so that when the persons come out there is greater acceptance and collaboration for them.”
The Justice Ministry, continues with its island-wide Sensitization Sessions equipping local leaders, pastors, teachers and Justices of the Peace of its Justice Services so that they can mobilize their communities toward a stronger, better Jamaica.
By: Dyhann Buddoo-Fletcher