What is the Community Council for Restorative Justice?
The Council is a community organization which oversees and guides the development of an alternative justice program that is restorative rather than punitive. The group consists of community volunteers who believe in the restorative process as a response to much of the crime in the community. Facilitators are trained in the Community Justice Forum theory and process. The group meets monthly.
It serves the Williams Lake area and works cooperatively with the First Nations communities near Williams Lake.
Where do the forums take place?
Conferences are arranged in a private and neutral place.
How long does it take to organize a forum?
Facilitators work hard to get a conference organized as soon as possible. Conferences are usually held within three weeks from the time they are referred.
Who participates in the forum?
Upon recommendation by the RCMP or Crown, all parties concerned are brought together as soon as possible to attempt to define an appropriate response. After preliminary meetings, if the conferencing facilitator feels a circle would be beneficial, the following individuals are usually invited to be part of the process:
- the offender
- the offender’s family and/or supporters
- the victim
- the victim’s family and/or supporters
- a facilitator and co-facilitator
- the RCMP
- other persons affected by the offender’s behavior
At the resolution conference, the offender has the opportunity to explain the motivation for the offense to the victim.
The victim has an opportunity to hear the offender’s motivations for the wrongful behavior and to tell the offender how he or she was affected.
A sincere apology is an important part of the process and goes a long way to making things right for all participants.
The outcome is up to the discretion of the conference participants and may include
- compensation to the victim
- consequences for the offender
- a commitment by the offender to work at a behavior change for a specified period of time
All dispositions must be agreed upon by the parties in attendance at the resolution conference. Monitoring occurs to ensure that the terms of the disposition agreement are carried out. Upon completion of the sanctions, the case will be reviewed; the offender’s compliance with the disposition is reported to all involved participants.
Conferencing is an opportunity for the offender to avoid criminal proceedings and to resolve harm that has been done by the offender’s wrongful actions. It gives the victim an opportunity to understand the offender’s motives for the wrong doing, receive an apology, and suggest ways to make up for the wrong doing. Many victims feel the process helps them get on with their lives.
What offences are eligible for Community Justice Forums?
Most offences are eligible for referral to a Community Justice Forum. Eligibility is not limited by the value of property involved, nor by the record of a person’s prior convictions. Examples include theft, auto theft, vandalism, assault, neighbourhood disputes, shoplifting, threats, and minor drug charges.
Which offenders are referred to Community Justice Forums?
Adults or youth may be referred. If a conference is likely to have a positive effect for those involved, conferencing may be used. Any offender who admits to an offense and agrees to participate in a conference may be recommended by an investigating officer or Crown.
What about privacy?
Conferencing is a confidential process between the facilitator and the participants. The process and outcome of a conference is tracked and recorded by the Council and the RCMP or Crown.
Who facilitates the circles?
The Williams Lake team is very active in handling RCMP and Crown Counsel referred cases. The group is often looking for more facilitators. When sufficient interest is shown, training sessions are offered by RCMP certified trainers. The training is a three-day commitment and the trainers try to organize the training schedule to meet the needs of those interested.
What other services does the council offer?
Facilitators work with the Cariboo-Chilcotin School District on issues such as bullying and have run workshops for teachers who are interested in bringing restorative practices to their classrooms.
The Council receives requests to run forums from the BC Conservation Officer Service, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
Some facilitators are trained mediators and have worked with community agencies in resolving disputes.
Members of the group maintain a presence in court on First Appearance Days to assist with cases in which Community Justice Forums or other restorative practices might be appropriate.
Judges have requested pre-sentence forums in which participants make sentencing recommendations for the Judge to consider.
Some of our facilitators have assisted individuals reintegrate into a community in which he or she has caused harm.
The council has worked with Indigenous Communities toward getting a Indigenous Court in the Williams Lake community.
Where can I get more information?
Please follow the link to the contact page and fill out the contact formContact Us