Offenders look  to Restorative Justice System
October 8, 2010
Offenders look to Restorative Justice System

The move to have a face to face restorative justice system here came one step closer with the convening of a national youth conference last Thursday, September 30, at the Methodist Church Hall.{{more}}

This is the first time that the youth of this country have been involved in the process, as they were given the opportunity to make input into the proposed project, which coincided with the month of activities to celebrate youth month and was held on the day designated as Commonwealth Caribbean Youth Day.

The restorative justice system is seen as a way to move away from the traditional justice systems that are stigmatizing to the offender.

The event was a collaborative effort between the Youth Affairs Division and the National Commission on Crime Prevention (NCCP).

Cammie Matthews, Director of the Family Affairs Division and representative of the NCCP, in his remarks, said that the idea of a face to face restorative justice system came out of the NCCP’s realization that when crimes were committed the individual pays for the crime.

However, the victims of the crime are left with the hurt.

“We realize that there is need for reconciliation and restoration, because in order to have real peace, it is important to have peace within,” Matthews said.

While some victims may have some difficulty grappling with a mechanism to facilitate reconciliation, Matthews contended that such a program was necessary.

“It is something I believe can work,” he said adding that there is need for conflicts to be totally resolved.

And one way in which this can be achieved is through victim, offender interaction.

Station Sergeant Frankie Joseph of the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, and representing the NCCP, in his remarks, added that one of the aims of the new proposed system was to begin the road to effective rehabilitation.

Particularly since the current criminal justice system can easily drive offenders into a sub-culture where they are seen as enemies of society, Joseph contended.

“It is hoped that through this process, offenders can get on with their lives and to perhaps develop self esteem as they go back into the community and begin to interact with persons they offended,” Sgt Joseph said.

“This process allows them to personally confront their victims and allow them to hear firsthand the harm they have caused.”

Joseph further explained that this should bring the perpetrator to come to fully grasp the effects of their behaviour.

A pilot project is expected to begin here soon at Her Majesty’s Prisons among young offenders, Joseph said. (DD)