Restorative Justice Week 2014 in Nelson

Next week, November 16-23, 2014 is Restorative Justice Week in Canada. Every year Correction Services Canada’s Restorative Justice Division proclaims this time to focus on what communities across Canada are doing to divert criminal matters from the courts and deal with them locally.

Restorative Justice is a philosophy and an approach that views crime and conflict as harm done to people and relationships. It is a non-adversarial, non-retributive approach to justice that emphasizes healing in victims, accountability of offenders and the involvement of citizens in creating healthier, safer communities.

A year ago the Nelson Police Department’s Community Policing Officer-Sgt. Dino Falcone-explored ways to bring Restorative Justice to Nelson. One of Chief Wayne Holland’s priorities, upon being named head of NPD by the Nelson Police Board, is to establish a well-trained group of volunteers who could accept files from his officers for a Restorative Justice option. Over the past year a volunteer assumed the role as coordinator of this initiative.

Offenders who take responsibility for their actions meet with those who have been directly affected by a criminal act. Each of them with their supporters comes together in a conference. They hear from each other what happened, how the crime has affected each person and together explore ways to repair the harm that has been done. After deliberation with all in the circle, an agreement is reached. The Responsible Person, with the support of a volunteer mentor, works toward fulfilling obligations agreed upon to successfully complete the resolution contract. The Affected Person has had the opportunity to meet the perpetrator of the crime and state what is needed to repair the harm. The Responsible Person has the opportunity to address an initial bad decision or choice and be reintegrated within our community. Where the Criminal Justice system promotes a “win-lose” outcome with charges, pleas and court, the Restorative Justice model promotes “win-win” outcomes as all those involved decide how to repair the harm.

Presently seventeen applicants were accepted for training to become Restorative Justice facilitators and mentors. They have embarked on an intensive training schedule this fall. This group represents many segments of our society with ages ranging from twenty-somethings to seniors, with backgrounds in education, technology, trades and business who bring a passion and commitment to learning and refining appropriate skills.

During Restorative Justice Week this fledgling group will be appearing as a delegation before City Council on Monday to make a presentation on their progress and plans for future development. Also next Friday local volunteers will be staffing an information table at Chahko Mika Mall from 4:30 to 7:30pm where the public can learn more about this initiative.and what it means for our Nelson community.

The NPD Restorative Justice program will receive its files and referrals internally. The theme of Restorative Justice Week 2014 is “Inspiring Innovation”. There are significant challenges ahead as this program develops. However the volunteers’ commitment to do the work with restorative principles always at the forefront will assure the long term success and stability of this new program dedicated to serve as a viable and sound alternative to the Criminal Justice system. .

For further information contact:
Gerry Sobie
Program Coordinator
Nelson Police Department Restorative Justice Program
606 Stanley Street
Nelson, B.C. V1L 1N4
Phone: 250.354.3919 Fax: 250.354-4179
Cell: 250.777.3979
rj@nelsonpolice.ca

Nelson Police Department’s Restorative Justice Program

Nelson Police Restorative Justice Program

Nelson Police Department’s Restorative Justice Program garnering great volunteer support.

Training for program that aims for a more compassionate community by putting perpetrators and victims face-to-face starts in September.

Nelson —The Nelson Police Department is making great headway in its search for volunteers for its innovative Restorative Justice Program — and with training slated to begin soon, the NPD is making an urgent last call for all who may still be interested in signing up.

The program places would-be law breakers face-to-face with those they’ve affected by their actions, and together, perpetrators and victims explore ways to repair the harm that’s been done.

“This program will do far more to make a first-time offender recognize that they have done harm to others, as well as to themselves, than the criminal justice system could ever hope to accomplish,” says NPD Chief Wayne Holland. “The personal interaction between the perpetrators — who often are former victims themselves — and the citizens who have been wronged can result in a young person being motivated to change the direction of his or her life, for their benefit as well as that of their community.”
Since the first call for volunteers went out this spring, 10 locals have been interviewed in preparation for the program’s intensive training course, which will run from September through December.

“I’ve been very impressed with applicants’ backgrounds and varied experiences,” says Restorative Justice Program Coordinator Gerry Sobie, who is leading the effort along with NPD Sergeant Dino Falcone. “I hear the commitment and passion in their voices,” Sobie adds.

Sobie says his candidates come from a broad background of professions including computational sciences, environmental management, city administration, social work, automotive technician, retired educators, food services and retail.

One of the volunteer applicants is retired school principal and 35-year Nelson resident Wayne Prentice, who says the program will have great benefits for the city.
“It’s a process through which relationships are restored,” says Prentice, a longtime local elementary school principal up until his retirement in 2007. “If a crime has been committed, both the victim and perpetrator need restoring so both can be functional and productive again in our community. The responsible party must understand and accept responsibility for her/his actions.”

Sobie says Restorative Justice will help make Nelson a healthier, more compassionate community than it already is.

Restorative Justice training will run on Saturdays and weekday evenings starting in September. The program is looking for another 10 volunteers.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact Gerry Sobie at NPD phone 250-354-3919 or rj@nelsonpolice.ca Volunteer application forms are at the front desk of the Nelson Police Department or online on the NPD website.


Media Contact:
Gerry Sobie, RJ Program Coordinator
c. 250-777-3979 p. 250-354-3919
rj@nelsonpolice.ca


Sgt. Dino Falcone
p. 250-354-3919
falcone@nelsonpolice.ca