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Restorative Justice: Building a Responsive Justice System, Op-ed

Imagine what it might be like if those affected by crime could be part of a plan to work towards repairing the harm. What if there was a way for everyone to have a better understanding of the impact that a crime had on individuals and community?

We have that now in Nova Scotia’s Restorative Justice Program.

This week, Nov. 18-24, marks Restorative Justice Week in Canada. A time to reflect on how our justice system is moving to be more open in dealing with crime and conflict.

We all know that crime can impact our safety, security and wellbeing. Crime can impact the lives of families and loved ones. Restorative justice responds by having those responsible for the crime to be part of a process to repair harm.

Every restorative justice case is different, however everyone impacted by the crime can be part of making things better. Restorative justice looks at why a crime occurred, how it impacts people and develops detailed actions that gets at the reasons why a crime occurred and helps address the hurt done.

For the past 20 years Nova Scotia has been taking a restorative approach in our justice system. Since the program was launched in 1999, more than 25,000 cases have gone through restorative justice. Evaluations have shown to reduce repeat offences by 12 per cent.

The key to our success is that many parts of the justice system have worked together. This includes police, the court system, the judiciary, public prosecution services, correctional services, the restorative justice agencies across the province and the Mi’kmaq Legal Support Network. All these groups support restorative justice by working with all of those involved. This work leads to positive outcomes for healthier relationships and communities – things that benefit us all.

This success has led us to use a restorative approach in other ways outside of the justice system. We now use it in schools across the province and in the public inquiry for the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children.

As a province, we will continue to explore new and innovative ways to take a restorative approach to benefit all Nova Scotians. Nova Scotia’s leadership in restorative justice is founded on one of our greatest resources – people and communities that care about relationships.

Source: Release

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