Let’s build peace, not prisons

Restorative justice recognizes the personal and emotional impact of misconduct and aims to restore these relationships.

In response to Harper’s Crime Bill, I would say that spending more of the taxpayers money to be able to incarcerate more people is part of the problem, instead of a solution. The movie “Escape from L.A.” comes to mind, somehow seeming prophetic (not just the part about riding in on a tsunami, if you remember it).

Here is a positive solution. Invest in the restorative justice process and put less funding into the current justice and punishment model.

What is restorative justice?

Although it may sound new, it has been around for as long as people have been living together in small communities. First Nation peoples have been using this style of problem solving since prehistory.

The modern version of restorative justice itself was developed by aboriginal New Zealanders as a way of solving problems, based on the idea that crime is the disruption of relationships between people, not an offense against the state.

Restorative justice recognizes the personal and emotional impact of misconduct and aims to restore these relationships and the foundation of trust they are based on.

People are seen as dynamic and capable of change, and not to be alienated and given labels like “victim” or “criminal.”

The aim of this form of alternative justice is not to punish the offender, but to help them become accountable for and to understand the consequences of their actions, allowing them to repair the damage they have done. The underlying principle is respect for all involved.

The focus is on addressing the harm that was done, and also addressing its causes, in the process of healing and reparation within a community setting. It is based on concepts of needs and responsibilities, healing, opportunities for treatment, transformation of shame, support, and integration. The justice system is based on violation of laws, punishment, blame, guilt, and people getting what they deserve according to the judge.

In an ideal world, which is where we are moving, this is the model to embrace. What Harper is proposing is moving back toward the dark ages.

 

 

Janet Royko

Nakusp, B.C.

 

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