Saanich Community Justice Initiatives is an innovative out of court process to deal with an offence. It is an alternative to the traditional justice system, and is based upon Restorative Justice principles and practices. The victim is central to the process, the accused takes responsibility and is held accountable for their actions, community perspective is included, and there is dialogue amongst the parties to come to a resolution to repair the harm.
Youth and adult offenders are referred to the program by the Saanich Police Department, and for the process to continue the accused must take responsibility for their actions and agree to participate in the program. The program has three models: Restorative Justice Circle, Victim/Offender Resolution Meeting, and Diversion. Each model varies in who participates in the process.
A Restorative Justice Circle brings together the victim, the accused, and their respective support groups with a trained facilitator. The referring police officer is also encouraged to attend. The process provides the structure and setting that allows for free, safe communication and expression of emotion. Victims and their support groups are provided with a platform to express what they need to repair the harm resulting from the offence. An agreement is formulated through consensus by the group and a completion date is determined.
The victim and offender are interviewed separately to clarify the purpose and process of the resolution meeting. The victim and accused meet face-to-face, where they can express feelings, reach new understandings, and decide together what will be best to repair the harm done. The process is guided by a trained facilitator.
The Diversion model is used when the victim does not wish to meet with the accused in person. The victim is contacted by the Community Justice caseworker to encourage and obtain their input into the agreement. The accused is interviewed by the caseworker, asked to outline the incident, describe their behavior and what they feel needs to happen to repair the harm. This model can also explore underlying issues that may be contributing to the accused behavior, including the misuse of drugs or alcohol. An agreement is formulated to complete particular tasks within a given period of time. Included in the agreement are the victims wishes, referrals to community resources, and conditions appropriate to the offence.
Apology, community work service, restitution, referrals to agencies providing specialized services, referrals to employment programs, specific projects relevant to the offence.
If the accused is a young person they may be offered a trained mentor to assist them in completing the Community Justice Agreement.
The Saanich Community Justice Initiative is funded by the Saanich Police Department and a Community Gaming grant. For further information please contact the John Howard Society of Victoria at (250) 386-3428 or firstname.lastname@example.org.