Restorative Justice program saved for now

Innovative program for Castlegar area has life left in it

Thanks to a couple of people stepping up at Tuesday night’s Restorative Justice AGM, the program has received a stay of execution.

“Two of the people that came agreed to go on the board, which was excellent,” said coordinator Inga Lamont. “A couple of them want to do the training for facilitators. So if we can get enough people the program will carry on.”

Lamont said the program will stay in suspension for the immediate future.

“We’re holding it in suspension because it takes a while to get the training going, and get the people organized,” she said. “They’ve extended the program for at least another six months. In the meantime, we’re hoping to have training. We have two more people on the board that can fit in. We’ll see how we go for the advertising for the facilitators.”

Twelve facilitators are needed to run the program. The facilitators run the forums where the victim and offender meet.

“We’re hopeful we’ll get the 12 plus,” said Lamont. “It’s a commitment of a whole weekend of training to learn how to run a forum. In our forums, the victim and all their supporters sit in, the offender and all their supporters sit in, the RCMP, and the facilitator, and we hold a forum.”

Lamont said the restorative justice forums are based on the Maori system in New Zealand.

“At that time, the whole thing is discussed,” she said. “The victims get a chance to talk and say how they felt and everything which they don’t in the court system. The group decides on what the resolution should be. Because for every consequence, their has to be some kind of commitment of the behalf of the offenders to make it right.”

The forums are for first time offenders which are referred by the RCMP. Out of 137 cases heard in the past 13 years, only three contracts have not been completed.

If you are interested in becoming a facilitator contact Inga Lamont at 250-365-7500.