Editorial: Restorative justice a valuable resource

Volunteers who give their time to restorative justice programs may do more than meets the eye.

Volunteers accomplish a variety of tasks in our communities, but those who give their time to restorative justice programs may do more than meets the eye.

As we recognize Restorative Justice week in B.C. this week, we should take time to rethink our idea of justice.

The biblical credo of “… An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” is a far cry from today’s somewhat less clear definition.

Traditional theories of justice run from retribution to deterrence, rehabilitation to incarceration and each has its place in our judicial system.

We all want violent offenders off our streets and all criminals made accountable for their actions. We want a justice system that is fair to all of those involved, both offenders and victims.

Too often, a traditional approach to justice fails to change the attitude of the offender, much less give them an appreciation of the harm they’ve done. Those incarcerated may be even more dangerous upon their release and recidivism rates are high. Victims are often left feeling frustrated by the judicial process.

When we look at justice, we frequently focus on punishment. Making sure the victim feels the punishment fits the crime and the chance for reparation are often overlooked. This is where restorative justice has the greatest impact.

In cases where the practice is used, the victim plays an active role in how the perpetrator is dealt with. This allows the victim’s voice to be heard from the beginning of the process, unlike the court system, which often leaves victim impact statements to follow a conviction.

For the restorative justice system to work, however, requires offenders to admit their guilt and show remorse, victims who are willing to use the alternative to the justice system, and a supportive community for both.

We are fortunate to have volunteers run restorative justice programs in our communities. But with the court system overburdened, it’s time for government to invest in expanding these programs, both to relieve pressure on the courts and to help deliver justice over the long term.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

One of the rescues at CATS - Cat Advocates Teaching & Saving Society’s new location on Knight Road in Comox. Photo by Erin Halushak
Feline rescue organization growing into new space

Cat Advocates Teaching & Saving Society opens new facility on Knight Road

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Neighbours have reached out to media on several occasions with complaints about the property

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Tentative COVID-19 vaccine site chosen in the Comox Valley

B.C. is moving into Phase 2 of its COVID-19 mass immunization plan

Cumberland is considering downtown densification proposals, and with that comes questions around parking, among other things. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Water bottling ban, parking key changes for Cumberland zoning

Bylaw on amendments still need adoption following March 2 hearing

Arzeena Hamir, working her booth at the Comox Valley Farmers Market. LUSH Valley was recognized last month as a partner of the year by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. Photo by Bill Jorgensen
LUSH Valley recognized for collaboration with Comox Valley Farmers’ Market

They won Partner of the Year award by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets

VIDEO: Courtenay Nissan hosting YANA fundraiser

Courtenay Nissan is hosting a special YANA fundraiser all weekend long, from… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Burnaby Mounties responded to 56 complaints and issued 10 tickets to people flouting COVID-19 restrictions in February. (Patrick Davies/100 Mile Free Press)
COVID denier fined $2,300 for hosting gathering in her home: Burnaby RCMP

The woman told Mounties she does not believe the pandemic is real

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

The Courtenay Fire Department hopes to start a new recruit training program in mid-2021, pending Provincial Health Orders. Scott Stanfield photo
Courtenay Fire Department gets creative

Due to public health orders resulting from COVID, the Courtenay Fire Department… Continue reading

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Most Read