Restorative Justice Forum suspends activities

The forum’s goal is to rehabilitate first-time offenders and mend relationships between offenders and victims.

  • May. 7, 2015 7:00 a.m.

Chris Stedile

 

Castlegar News

 

Castlegar’s Restorative Justice Forum has suspended its activities until more support is shown.

The forum’s goal is to rehabilitate first-time offenders and mend relationships between offenders and victims.

However, in the past year, the forum has seen only one person come to them for assistance. Chair Inga Lamont said that when the Justice Forum started in 1999 they would see one to four people a month.

Reluctance of volunteers to be trained for the work and a lack of referrals from the RCMP lately have led to the program’s downfall.

“We need members and we need the RCMP to make referrals,” she said. “When you have facilitators waiting to do referrals and there are none, you lose your facilitators.”

Lamont said another issue, according to police, is that most offenders are repeat offenders and not suitable for the program, which is especially useful to first-time offenders, as it leaves them without a criminal record so long as they keep their noses clean and follow the forum’s guidelines.

“It’s an excellent program but if it’s not being used and you don’t have people and you don’t have cases, you can’t run it.”

Through the process, offenders meet the person they wronged and the victim gets a chance to talk about how the crime affected them.

“It’s a phenomenal program to have in the schools but we haven’t been able to get teachers in on the program,” Lamont said. “I understand: I’m a teacher as well. They are busy and they’re tired on weekends but we do need these kinds of people.”

Lamont said the 30 hours of required training to work for the forum is another problem. Since the class time is always during weekends, it seems nobody wants to offer themselves for the forum but they can’t operate with untrained people.

Also worth noting is the age limit for this program: there is none.

“We don’t just deal with youth, we’ve had people up to 66 years old if it’s a first time offense.”

The forum has been on shaky ground for a while now, Lamont said, and after careful deliberation they came to this decision.

“For the last two years we’ve been deciding what we should do and at the last meeting we thought maybe it’s time to call it quits for a while. We haven’t disbanded the society or anything; we will be happy to help anyone who decides this is important and wants to keep it going.

“I am always happy to help anyone who wants to get involved, but I’m 84 and have been doing this since 1999. I don’t want to be the only one who has to do this but it’s such a wonderful program.”

 

Just Posted

Castlegar applies for grant for next phase of Columbia Ave repairs

Phase 2 will cover Columbia Avenue from 20th Street to 24th Street

Selkirk College students protest proposed tuition increases

Sudents’ union says this year’s 2 per cent increase puts education out of reach for some

Castlegar business owners report highest optimism in 3 years

Two-thirds of survey participants report business security or growth

Former ski champ and MLA’s son hope to open Castlegar cannabis store next month

Felix Belczyk and Ben Conroy are in the approval process for local Spiritleaf outlet

Born 1 pound, 11 ounces, Winlaw premature baby comes home

Indra Greaves was born at the Nelson hospital after just 24 weeks of gestation

VIDEO: Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Why would the B.C. legislature need a firewood splitter?

First sign of police involvement in investigation of top managers

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Judge annuls hairdresser’s forced marriage to boss’ relative

Woman was told she’d be fired if she didn’t marry boss’s Indian relative so he could immigrate here

Liberals look to make home-buying more affordable for millennials: Morneau

Housing is expected to be a prominent campaign issue ahead of October’s federal election

Cannabis-carrying border crossers could be hit with fines under coming system

Penalties are slated to be in place some time next year

Man accused of threatening to kill ‘as many girls as I see’

Christopher W. Cleary wrote he was angry because he’d never had a girlfriend and wanted to ‘make it right’ with a mass shooting

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

Lineup is full of new faces after the organization parted ways with 18 players over the off-season

Most Read