Visiting judge surprised by Community Justice Centre methods

Judge Ross Green says restorative justice holds a respected healing place in the legal system, and is an effective means of redressing criminal harms for both victims and accused.

The noted Saskatchewan jurist/writer was this year's presenter at the Iona Campagnolo Lecture on Restorative Justice on Thursday at North Island College.

Green — the author of two influential books on the subject — explored the changing and broadening roles of the evolving movement.

"He talked a lot about his experience with alternatives to court, and court annexed kinds of restorative justice practices in Saskatchewan," said Bruce Curtis, chief administrator of the Comox Valley Community Justice Centre.

Green was surprised and impressed with the range of styles and approaches employed at the CVCJC.

As opposed to punishment, restorative justice aims to restore a healthy relationship between the individual who caused the harm, the person who was harmed, and the community that "is always harmed when there's conflict." Curtis said complainants and respondents often walk away from resolution conference with a sense that magic happened.

"When you're provided a context and environment in which truth-telling can occur, and people are communicating with each other, very often the vengeance or the retribution being sought by complainants, or the huge amount of shame sometimes felt by respondents, can just melt away."

The result is a workable, effective agreement between two parties.

The practice of restorative justice is routed in aboriginal practice worldwide. In its modern form, it emerged in the late-'70s in Waterloo, Ont.

Green was inducted as a fellow of the CVCJC at the lecture, which drew more than 100 people.

The annual event was established in honour of Campagnolo, B.C.'s first female lieutenant-governor. The Comox Valley resident serves as patron of the CVCJC.

Canada's Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin is next year's speaker.


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