Jeff Green | Nov 16, 2006
Feature Article - November 16, 2006
Back toHomeFeature Article - November 16, 2006
Lanark County CommunityJustice AGMLanark County Community Justice is a program that conducts and facilitates forums that involve the community in repairing the harm that results from crime.
A Forum brings together the people directly involved and affected by an incident with the help of trained facilitators, to discuss what happened, listen to what others have to say, and to reach a decision about how to make things right.
Victims get a chance to voice their concerns, ask questions, and obtain insight about the incident, which often is helpful in obtaining closure. Accused persons benefit from accepting responsibility for their actions and having an opportunity to repair the harm caused by their actions.
The community as a whole benefits when problems are resolved by the people most affected. Not all crimes are suited to the CJF process, but following are a few success stories taken from the RCMP’s CJF Canadian Resource Guide.
Four young offenders were accused of damaging headstones in the local cemetery. Many were quite old and some were damaged beyond repair. The young offenders met with their parents, the local minister, the priest, town council representatives and a CJF facilitator. The teens admitted to the crime with varied reactions. Some were remorseful, one was defiant and another owned up to the responsibility for what he had done. The community members explained how the vandalism affected them, how shocked and upset they were, and how they felt the sanctity of the cemetery had been violated. The offenders apologized for their actions and told the group they now understood the magnitude of what they had done. With the help of their parents, they agreed to pay for the damages, perform 10 hours of community work each and plant flowers in the cemetery. They also agreed to research the history of some of the people whose graves they damaged and write brief essays about them, explaining their contributions to the community. Everyone left on good terms.
At school, Billy punched Mike twice, giving him a black eye and a bloody nose in an apparently unprovoked attack. The school principal called the police to report the crime and suspended Billy for three days. Knowing that Billy had been recently experiencing problems with his anger after being bullied and teased himself, and that it was out of character for him to behave this way, it was decided to try a CJF before formal charges were laid. At the forum, Billy was withdrawn and obviously embarrassed by his actions. He had to be prompted to speak and said very little. Mike also said little, but his mother spoke for 15 minutes about how her son had become sullen and withdrawn after the attack. She was near tears when she finished and her words had an obvious impact on everyone in the room.After listening to Mike’s mom, Billy spontaneously apologized to Mike and agreed to start anger management counselling. Mike perked up and smiled and everyone started talking together. The healing process had begun.
Lanark County Community Justice Program is a Restorative Justice Initiative that offers Community Justice Forum services to youth and adults, receiving referrals from the Courts, police services, community agencies and community members.
November 12th to the 18th is Restorative Justice Week. In the spirit of Restorative Justice Week’s theme of ‘Creative Partnerships, Collaborative Action”, LCCJP has invited the drama students from PDCI to join us in presenting a Mock Community Justice Forum.
Please join us for this event, and stay for refreshments and our Annual General Meeting on Thursday, November 16th between 7 and 9 pm at the Perth and District Collegiate Institute (PDCI) located on Victoria Street in Perth .
Louise Stevenson/Nancy Browman
Lanark County Community Justice Program, Inc.
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