The service provided to the community by those willing to be involved in restorative justice is considerable:
A. Financial Perspective
In a paper prepared by the Chilliwack Restorative Justice Society (CRJYDA) and based on the example of a adolescent first-time offender and cost-benefit data from 2001:
Formal Court Process: $2649.50/file (2001)
Would represent a cost of $3, 579.01 in 2017 according to the Inflation Index: Bank of Canada
For the 12 month period of 2017, CDRJS successfully completed 46 of the 54 files it received.
Using the 2017 adjusted figure of $3,579.01 for a first-time offender, as reported by Chilliwack Restorative Justice Society, the files for 2017 represent a estimated l savings of $164, 634.46 to the community if those same file had proceeded through a formal court process.
B. Human Potential Perspective
There are three important considerations at play when discussing the benefits of restorative justice:
In a restorative justice approach, the victim is involved in the outcome. The victim explains to the offender how the actions of the offender have had an impact on the victim and have that harm addressed. The offender has the opportunity to learn how their actions have had an impact beyond the simple applications of punishment for transgression. They have the opportunity to sit in a circle with those who have been harmed and learn about the human impact of the transgression.
Recidivism is an indication or measurement of the further criminal behavior of an offender. Simply put, if the offenders as a group do not re-offend, the recidivism rate is low. The statistical evidence for offenders as a group who have gone through a restorative justice process is that the recidivism rate is lower than that of the group who were referred to a formal court process.
Offender Future Potential
The negative impact that having a criminal offense has on future employment and travel is significant. An offender who accepts responsibility for their transgression and actively pursues reconciliation through a court diversion such as restorative justice, may receive a police record with a determined active period. Examples of which are: Theft under $5,000.00 – file purge date of 5 years, Mischief under $5000.00 – file purge date of 5 years, Assault (not power based) – file purge date of 8 years.
The exact purge date is determined by the RCMP and may take into consideration additional offenses, but a police file does not have the same negative impact on the future positive aspirations of the offender that would be the case of a criminal record.
More information that you might find useful:
C. How does one become a trained RJ Facilitator?
The Community Justice Forum (CJF) Training Process was developed by the RCMP to adequately provide individuals with the background and practical experience necessary to facilitate restorative justice forums. In order for an organization such as CDRJS to take court diversion referrals, for the purposes of restorative justice and be recognized as restorative justice program under the Community Accountability Program of the Department of Justice for British Columbia, all individuals have to be formally trained under the CJF Program.
In addition to the initial 20 hour training program, successful facilitators are mentored through a process of 5 formal referrals. During each of the forums in the mentorship phase, the applicant takes on increased responsibility and is provided with referrals with increased complexity.
After the initial training and the guided experience, a formal recommendation is forwarded by CDRJS to the Restorative Justice Program Director, RCMP “E” Division/Government of Canada – Crime Prevention Services.
If you are interested in becoming a member of CDRJS and contributing to the community in this manner, please contact Doug McPhee, Program Coordinator.