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What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice (RJ) seeks to resolve conflict by having all parties involved come together to reach an agreement. It is a different way of thinking about crime and conflict.
RJ focuses on holding the offender accountable in a more meaningful way. It repairs the harm caused by the offence, helps to reintegrate the offender into the community and helps to achieve a sense of healing for both the victim and the community.
Restorative Justice Conferences and Circles
Restorative Justice Conferences and Circles are some of the tools used in RJ. A victim may meet with the offender face to face in a Victim/Offender Conference, or with the Offender and persons from the larger community in a Family Group/Community Conference. A Healing and Talking Circle can also be held to focus on a common concern in order to aid in healing. A Sentencing Circle can also be used to arrive at a sentencing plan for an offender.
RJ in Jamaica
Vision Statement: The National Restorative Justice Policy is a pathway for transformation to a more secure, just, cohesive and peaceful Jamaican society.
A National Restorative Justice Policy outlines the Protocols that will govern RJ. The Ministry of Justice has the responsibility for the overall implementation and administration of the National Restorative Justice Programme.
Goals of National Restorative Justice Programme are to:
- create a culture of peace through effective processes that emphasize the values of mutual respect, dignity and concern between one another in an environment of healing, reconciliation, and restoration;
- empower individuals, groups and communities to respond in a positive manner to crime and wrongdoing and the harm offenders cause, thus creating satisfactory outcomes which enable productive relationships;
- reduce criminal case backlog by diverting cases from the formal justice system and also resolving conflicts at the community level;
- increase public confidence and trust in the justice system by fostering greater participation in and ownership of Restorative Justice Processes by communities and victims;
- reduce recidivism by addressing the underlying causes of criminal behaviour and supporting the constructive reintegration of the offender into the community; and
- eliminate the reprisal culture by enabling individuals to have access to a dispute resolution process at the early stage of conflict and avoid escalation to violent reactions.