Crime is a violation of the law but is also a violation of people and relationships and a disruption to peace in a community.
The criminal justice system deals with offenders, while restorative justice processes address the needs of victims and the community and holds offenders accountable for the harm they caused. It can bring victims, offenders and the community a more satisfying experience of justice.
Most offenders who take part in restorative justice programs keep their commitments, which may include making restitution or doing community service. Some research suggests that participating in a restorative justice process may reduce or stop offending.
In a typical restorative justice process, cases are screened for suitability and affected parties are met with in advance. If the case continues to move forward, everyone affected by an offence is invited to discuss the circumstances surrounding it. Often this means that victims, offenders and their supporters meet with a restorative justice facilitator (or in some cases an elder) for structured dialogue. This dialogue helps participants share how the offence happened, how they were affected and what needs to happen to make things right. The number of people involved in the dialogue varies on the type of offence and the needs of participants.
Restorative Justice (PDF) is part of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General’s Crime Prevention Information Series. It provides general information about restorative justice for service providers, potential participants and others.
The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General is committed to a restorative justice approach involves victims, offenders and communities in achieving justice and addressing the harm caused by crime. The ministry promotes restorative justice by funding Community Accountability Programs (CAPs).
The Community Accountability Programs (CAP) Information Package (PDF) helps British Columbians understand how they can bring restorative justice to their communities. The package:
- Gives an overview of the principles and underlying values of restorative justice
- Provides guidelines for designing and implementing a CAP
- Describes how communities can apply for financial support to start up and maintain a program
To qualify for funding CAPs must:
- Be volunteer based
- Adhere to the ministry's Framework for Restorative Justice.
- Demonstrate community and criminal justice support, including victims organizations
- Not accept referrals for sexual assault, spousal assault, and hate motivated crimes
- Conduct criminal record checks on all facilitators
- Maintain strict confidentiality of the victim and offender
Restorative Justice Programs in British Columbia (PDF) lists contact information for all of the restorative justice programs in B.C. receiving CAP funding, as well as Aboriginal justice programs in B.C.
If you have questions about CAPs, contact Victim Services and Crime Prevention Division and ask to speak to a Restorative Justice Coordinator.