Fairview Community Restorative Justice: Community Impact
What is restorative justice? Does it make a difference?
All the definitions and the answers are summed up best in the stories that come from taking part in the restorative process.
This is a brief over view of just a couple of the case outcomes from this RCMP Detachment area.
The Offense: Theft/Fraud
A youth stole an envelope containing cash, and a cheque. The envelope belonged to another youth male participating in a sponsored event. The offending youth also fraudulently, cashed the stolen cheque at a store.
People affected by the offense were; the youth that fundraised the money, the store manager and the organizer of the fundraising event.
- The youth shared his/her account of the offense and the parents shared their view of the growing tendency to be in trouble with the new peer group their child had been spending time with.
-The youth who had the fundraising money stolen, explained his frustration with the theft and how he was impacted. He expressed his concern with the possible negative reflection of his character by the community because they entrusted him with donations that was given for a specific purpose. He also spoke of the time and effort he put into raising the funds.
-The store owner spoke about the seriousness of cashing a fraudulent cheque. To him, recovering the money was important as well as having the youth recognize the time spent having to deal with the matter.
-The event organizer spoke of the reputation of the orgainzing agency, the work that goes into organizing such a worthy cause and that the money is not only stolen from a peer but literally from the people it was meant to support.
-The offending youth apologized to his peer, agreed to pay back the money that was stolen and then committed to raise $100.00 for a similar cause as restitution.
-The youth apologized, agreed to pay restitution to the store manager for the bad cheque.
-The youth apologized to the event organizer, agreed to view a video on the topic the event was meant to sponsor and discussed what the fundraising event means to the people it was meant to support.
The youth was successful in all aspects of the agreement raising a bit more than he/she had committed too. The feedback from each of the victims was positive and they felt the youth had a better understanding of the impact his/her actions had on so many people.
The Offense: Mischief
3 youth spray painted obscenities/pictures on 4 different businesses. An apartment building, a building, a recreation facility and a new business. The people affected were the four business owners and the community.
The 3 youth with their parents in attendance shared their account of the offense and expressed their regret.
-The apartment owner explained that while the apartment was older and somewhat run down it still was home to the many people. He was frustrated with their disregard for people’s property and wanted it restored to at least what it was.
-The building owner was not able to leave work to be there in person but had a letter to the boys stating he wanted to work with and supervise the painting needed to cover the graffiti.
-The new business owner was extremely frustrated because this mischief took place a very short time before a special event at the store and the business owner had just had the exterior painted which would now have to be redone. The owner spoke of the older female patrons in her store who were very offended by the nature of the pictures drawn and the obscene language used. The owner wanted the youth to pay for the work to be professionally done as there would be no time for them to do the work prior to the special event.
-The recreation facility owner was frustrated for again being targeted by vandalism, the time and expense it cost his business. He pointed out that he works to provide activities for youth that are positive and this is the thanks he receives. He wanted the total cost of the primer and paint to cover the massive wall. By the end of the forum he offered to pay for some of the paint cost because he said that the youth were going to do the work of repainting and said he recognized that they were basically good kids.
-The parents all had opportunity to speak to how the offense impacted them, their disappointment in their children’s choices and the embarrassment they felt. They offered to supervise the youths work and also apologized to all involved.
-The apartment owner asked that the 3 youth pay for what was needed to and physically restore the building to at least what it was by scrubbing the spray paint and repainting to cover it.
-The 3 youth agreed to cover the cost of the paint and do the work on the building under the supervision of one of the parents and the building owner.
-The business owner wanted the boys to pay the costs for it to be professionally done since as there was no time for them to do the work prior to the special event. The owner felt some physical labor was important so it was agreed they would clean up of the business parking lot and property.
-The recreation facility owner wanted restitution for the cost of the primer and paint to cover the massive wall and for the youth to do the work.
The 3 youth were successful in all agreements. The feedback from each of the victims was positive.
- The apartment owner said that the boys did a good job covering the graffiti. A tenant was happy the work was done.
The building owner shared his personal story with the youth of someone giving him a chance to right a wrong when he was young which inspired him to want to do the same for these youth. The building owner covered the paint cost himself and the work was completed.
-The business owner stated how important it was to speak to the youth and for them to understand that it is more than a business, its real people who are affected and highly stressed by these events. The owner was happy to have everything done by the special event and felt that this program gave the youth opportunity to make amends for what they had done.
- The recreation facility owner received restitution for paint costs and the youth did the work. The owner did purchase all the painting supplies and shared in the cost. He was happy with the work that had been done and spoke with the parents during the full 2 day work bee. He stated it was the only time in the many times of being vandalized that he ever got any restitution or justice.
There are also 2 other cases that are out of the box that we successfully were able to resolve.
The first: An unsolved, 5 year old, break, enter and theft crime of a business that had since closed down. One of the offending youth, now an adult, came forward to confess what he/she and 2 others, then youth, had done.
The owners of the closed store had moved on and had been compensated for their losses through insurance. They did not wish to attend the forum in person, however, did relay, how the act affected them and the community to the victim services coordinator.
A forum was held with; the 3, now adults offenders, the victims services coordinator representing the victim and 2 restorative justice facilitators. They shared their story; relaying the events, offering genuine regret and apologies. After discussion of possible ways to give back to their community, an extremely generous donation was made to 2 highly valued and used community organizations.
Even after 5 years, the case was filled with emotion and it was rewarding to witness the healing of these young people and the benefit to the community.
The second: Fairview Community Restorative Justice took a case that could easily have been concluded without any repair as it took place in another province.
After learning an offender of an unresolved shoplifting case in another province was a resident of our community the RCMP there referred the case to Fairview RCMP detachment.
Had it been a simple shoplifting we may not have received the referral but the youth was also verbally abusive and physically aggressive with the stores security guard prompting the need for follow up.
Through numerous calls and emails, FCRJ, was able to obtain case details from the RCMP where the offense occurred and written a victim impact statement from the victimized store. A forum was held with the youth and her parent present. Fairview Victims Services represented the victims. Considerable dialog took place centering around the impact of shoplifting on business and community as well as the aggressive behavior directed at the store security.
The contract outcomes saw the youth complete an anger management assessment done by a counselor and a 2 part 3 page essay. Part one was on the impact of shoplifting on businesses; part 2 was research information on the rise in youth aggression.
The victim and the offender expressed satisfaction with the results of the RJ process.
Submitted by Mary Bracken
Fairview Community Restorative Justice Coordinator