Chief Justice, the Hon. Zaila McCalla, said the judiciary fully embraces the move by Government to introduce restorative justice principles within the justice system.
The Ministry of Justice is looking to apply the concept to the local court system, and is currently carrying out a pilot programme in four communities: Tower Hill, St. Andrew; Spanish Town, St. Catherine; May Pen, Clarendon; and Granville, St. James.
As part of activities marking Restorative Justice Week from February 5 to 11, four centres, pivotal to the programme, have been opened in the pilot areas.
In her address at a public lecture held on Thursday (February 9) at the University of Technology's (UTech) Old Hope Road campus, the Chief Justice endorsed the move, noting that the practice of restorative justice is critical to the reform of the justice system and in increasing the confidence of citizens in the administration of justice.
She noted further that restorative justice has the potential to foster peace, as it places emphasis on repairing the harm suffered by victims of crime and it brings together victims, offenders and community members to decide how to achieve healing.
"The judiciary is fully committed and supports the introduction of restorative justice principles to resolve disputes and assist victims by allowing them to actively participate in the process," she stated.
Director of Public Prosecution, Paula Llewellyn, in adding her own words of endorsement, commented that restorative justice offers an avenue for healing in communities where the negative effects of crime have had an impact.
"This healing is usually necessary whether the accused has been found guilty or innocent and I believe it will assist in making sure that you do not have spinoffs in terms of retribution or vengeance from some members of the community," Miss Llewellyn stated.
Justice Minister, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, said that restorative justice can provide sustainable solutions to some of the difficulties that currently affect Jamaica's criminal justice system.
The principles of restorative justice have been successfully applied in many jurisdictions, including Canada.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter