Restorative Justice success is a double edged sword

Fairview Community Restorative Justice (FCRJ) was started by the community in 2006 to address the increase in crime and offer an alternative justice program that took the victims needs into consideration, while addressing accountability with the offender.

Retorative justice deals with minor crimes like shoplifting, mischief and minor assaluts. 

Fairview Detachment Area FCRJ Stats 2007-2010

 2007

Shoplifting 56%

Theft 11%

Assault 33% 

2008

Shoplifting 60%

Mischief 20%

Utter threats 20% 

2009

Shoplifting 22%

Mischief 11%

Assault 22%

Theft  34%

Fraud 11%

2010

Shoplifting 33%

Mischief 17%

Theft 17%

Break & Enter 33%

Statistics show that there has been a decrease in shoplifting since the start of our program. Fairview Detachment Commander SGT. Bruce Bracken has indicated that by their stats on minor crime, his view is that our FCRJ program has been successful. This is where success is a double edged sword. 

Referral to the program is dependant on many factors. Out of all RCMP files, first cut are files eligible for RJ, minor in crime. Next cut, the offender admits guilt and is willing to make amends. Finally the victim must be willing to take part. Out of a small pool of files and 3 cuts there are very few cases to refer. 

So when there are no cases how do our facilitators keep their skills up?

We do monthly training using senario as well as communication skill building. We have a group of extremely dedicated volunteers waiting to take on new cases. If the current trend continues and we dont get new cases, the program may fold. The crime rate will likely increase and the need for our program will be there but the program may not.

How do we overcome theses obstacles?

Our Board of Directors, facilitators and RCMP have collaborated ideas for supporting our local schools/ College and neigboring detachment. We would also like to have Fairview Community Restorative Justice Sanctioned so it could receive referrals from the Crown. With Crown referrals it still must fit the criteria listed above.

That is how it is with preventative services like ours. It is difficult to measure the "direct relation" of our restorative justice program to the reduction in minor crime. If we are not seeing those same offenders again can we directly attribute that to the program or were there other contributing factors? Likewise, the cases that are not successful,  is that a refection of the program or the fact that the same offender would be seen many times through the courts?

Outcomes measures for developmental assets show how programs like restorative justice are key in affecting risk and protective factors. In the future we will see the greater impact that programs like FCRJ have on a community. That is why it is so important for us to stand strong, keep our training and skills up so we can continue to be a support for our community.

This is how I see it.   

by FCRJ Coordiantor Mary Bracken

 

Pamela MacKay