Legal aid lawyer Jenny Reid hopes to bring restorative justice to the Clarenville area.
“It goes on everywhere— except for Newfoundland,” she explained, noting the Miawpukek Mi’kamawey Mawi’omi First Nation Reserve located at the mouth of the Conne River as the one exception she could think of.
Restorative, community-based justice, Reid explained, brings perpetrator and victim face-to-face to mediate a remedy outside of the legal system.
She says such discussions allow for amends to be made, and for an outcome to be reached that satisfies both parties, all while avoiding a potentially lengthy court procedure.
“It means the community takes ownership and responsibility for what happens here,” she summarized, noting that, unlike a court proceeding, the victim gets a say in what the outcome ought to be.
“The police have become the go-to for every little issue in our communities, and that is to the disadvantage of our communities.”
Reid says such programs are “not soft on crime,” but instead an alternative method for handling crime.
Should an agreement not be reached, the court procedure is the backup, Reid explained.
Reid will host a community justice forum on Thursday, Nov. 22 from 5-7 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion in Clarenville. From this she hopes to get a feel for the response to the project from the community.
Making presentations will be Dorothy Vaandering, associate professor in the Faculty of Education at Memorial University; Roxanne Skanes, retired educator and school administrator of Memorial University; and Rose Ricciardelli, associate professor and criminology certification coordinator at Memorial University. Reid says representatives from the RCMP and justice also plan on attending. Community members from Clarenville and area are encouraged to attend.
The presentations will be followed by a round table discussion.
Restorative Justice Week
In addition, the Town of Clarenville last week declared Nov. 18-25 as Restorative Justice Week, along with Justice and Public Safety Minister Andrew Parsons, who, on Nov. 20, also declared this week as Restorative Justice Week.
“This government strongly believes in restorative justice and recognizes that we need to find innovative ways to address the number of people incarcerated. Just last week at Federal, Provincial, and Territorial meetings of Justice and Public Safety Ministers, my counterparts and I committed to increase the use of restorative justice, acknowledging the critical role restorative justice can play at all stages of the justice system,” read a statement given by Minister Parsons in the House of Assembly on Nov. 20.