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The Importance Of Restorative Justice

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Research has overwhelmingly shown the harmful effects of charging and punishing youth. statistics have proven that young people who are charged are less likely to succeed in school or find stable employment and are more likely to reoffend. Restorative justice is commonly defined as an approach to justice that focuses on addressing the harm caused by crime while holding the offender responsible for their actions. Restorative justice is based on an understanding that crime is a violation of people and relationships. The principles of restorative justice are based on respect, compassion and inclusivity. The Peachbulders Restorative Justice Program provides young people with access to justice and divert them out of the courts before trial. Through this paper I will conduct and identify the effectiveness and impact of the circle based restorative justice program.

Restorative Youth Circles program also referred to as Peacebuilders Circle began in 2004. Peacebuilders is a nonprofit organization based in Toronto, Canada. Their main goal is to use restorative practices to keep young people out of the criminal justice system and help youth realize their full potential while building safe and peaceful communities. This extra- judicial diversion program is designed to provide effective access to restorative justice to youth aged 12-18 who are known to, or are subjected of involvement with gangs; have been charged and would otherwise be in detentions; and have been impacted negatively by the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act and the Safe Schools Act. The youth circles project welcomes participants from all cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds and provides a safe space for difficult conversations. The mission of this program is to “increase the capacity of youth, schools, communities and the justice system to manage conflict through Peacebuilding dialogues (Peacebuilders Canada, 2018)”. Peacebuilding Circles are built on the traditional talking circles, in which a talking piece is passed around from person to person consecutively within the circle, regulating dialogue. The peace builders circle model uses multidisciplinary panel of trained peacemaking circle facilitators consisting of volunteer lawyers, mental healthcare professionals, community members and youth working collaboratively to guide the youth accepted into the program to ensure that they make choices that will keep them out of the criminal justice system. In order to be eligible, the Restorative Youth Circle works with court involved youth aged 12-18 and provide assistance to youth who are required to appear in court at specific locations. ( Jarvis street, finch avenue west and Eglington avenue east ). Youth can also be referred to the program by an informal diversion ( includes self referrals and referrals from lawyers, crown, judges, police , teachers, family, etc. ) and Extrajudicial Sanctions ( referred by Crown to probation ).

A Restorative Justice program that helps to divert youth from the Canadian Criminal Justice System. (2016, May 23). Retrieved November 9, 2019, from http://www.selresources.com/sel/restorative-justice-program-helps-divert-youth-canadian-criminal-justice-system/

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The University of British Columbia is in favour of the Restorative Youth Circles program. The author identifies that its a good program from the beginning of the article by providing positive dialogue in the introduction. “Canadian organization dedicated to improving the lives of youth that are at risk for incarceration, promoting a restorative justice approach (in contrast to the conventional criminal justice approach) to empower them to overcome personal challenges, make better choices, and succeed (UBC,2016 )”. Its evident that this approach is more favoured than the regular criminal justice approach in which results in detention centres and jail time. The author also talks about how the program has impacted youth and helps them focus on responsibility, learning positive values, making amends and moving forward. “Since its inception, over 500 youth have participated in the process, graduated and been successfully diverted from the justice system (UBC, 2016 )”.

The Peacebuilders program is very effective, they use professionals such as lawyers, mental health specialists as well as volunteers for youth to connect with. However, In order for the restorative justice circle program to be more efficient would require more funding for their program. Having sufficient and stable funding to implement sanctions for alternatives to imprisonment would highly improve the effect of the program. The lack of programming in communities also attributes to funding and resource issues. Furthermore there should be an increase in awareness and understanding of the restorative justice program. We live in a generation where social media is at the centre of our lives; utilising social media outlets would bring more awareness to restorative justice and the programs that are provided with it.

In conclusion restorative justice is important. Its importance is reflected in our criminal code, the youth criminal justice act and the fact that judges are required to consider it during the sentencing process. Restorative justice programs such as Peacebuilders and many others provides alternatives to detention centres and jail time, and gives youth a second chance to change their lives. This ultimately shows youth that they matter in their community and reduces recidivism rates.

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The Importance Of Restorative Justice. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-importance-of-restorative-justice/
“The Importance Of Restorative Justice.” Edubirdie, 16 Jun. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-importance-of-restorative-justice/
The Importance Of Restorative Justice. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-importance-of-restorative-justice/> [Accessed 30 Jan. 2023].
The Importance Of Restorative Justice [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 16 [cited 2023 Jan 30]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-importance-of-restorative-justice/
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