JIS News

Mediator with the Disputes Resolution Foundation, Sharon Palmer, has said that restorative justice, once instituted, would go a far way in healing broken relationships, and reducing the high incidence of crime in Jamaica.
In an interview with JIS News, Ms. Palmer said the series of consultations, which are taking place across the island, have provided substantive feedback, as persons have been very frank in airing their views on the proposed Restorative Justice Policy.
“Based on my experience so far, we really are hearing from citizens, their views on what a restorative justice framework should really look like; what a policy should look like, and what justice, really, should look like in Jamaica. Persons are very open and honest in their opinion and their comments, and I really believe that after all the consultations are through, we should have a pretty good idea as to the way forward, as it relates to the implementation of restorative justice in Jamaica,” she said.
“Individuals are saying, if we are able to get over all the hurdles, then we would be well on our way to making this thing not just happen, but work, and I believe once Jamaicans understand the value of restorative justice principles, I believe they will become involved in the process and make it work,” she added.
Ms. Palmer said it has become apparent that as persons are more aware of the principles involved, they are able to view situations in a more objective manner, and rather than casting blame, are able to see the role of all involved in fixing the situation, empathising with both victim and offender.
She noted that in situations where some wrongful act has been committed, it is not only those persons directly involved who are affected, but rather, every member of the community or society. As such, there has to be a communal effort to bring the parties to the point where healing, and ultimately closure, can take place.
“You find that there is a balance, and persons are not just looking at the victims only and their families, but they have recognised that there is also a need to reach out to the offenders and their families…and also the community. The entire community is also hurt by what has occurred. I believe that this will work, and it can work. Jamaicans have given us positive feedback, that once all of the other things, the concerns are addressed and the necessary things are put in place, it will work,” Ms. Palmer said.
The Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with the Disputes Resolution Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and other stakeholders, are conducting a series of national consultations, to garner feedback from citizens, which will inform a draft policy document to be presented to Cabinet.