Many Canadians feel that the justice system that has been in place for decades is not always the best practice to deal with some criminal acts. The justice system protects human rights, dignity and demographic values. Restorative justice offers the same protection, but includes everyone affected by a crime, costs less, reduces delays and resolves the problem when the offender owns up to the crime. In the formal justice system, there may be long delays after harm has been done before a judgment is given. The main goal of the formal system is to decide whether the accused is innocent or guilty. Those who suffer harm may not get a chance to speak except when the trial is over. They can’t talk about what would make them feel better. An alternative system of justice is needed to respond to those needs.
The philosophy of restorative justice is based on community healing. In other words, the community decides what is best for itself in terms of resolving certain criminal matters. The focus in restorative justice is on offender accountability, problem solving, and creating an equal voice for offenders and victims. The best results occur when the victim, offender, and the community jointly resolve the affects of an offenders’ behaviour. There are many options within restorative justice. The RCMP is championing one specific process: Community Justice Forums (CJF).