The Justice Ministry is expanding the cadre of restorative justice facilitators serving communities with additional personnel to come on stream in January 2022.
This means that more Jamaicans will be able to benefit from restorative justice services as a dispute resolution option.
The facilitators will lead restorative justice circles, which are sessions that provide an opportunity for community members to come together to talk about an incident, share their thoughts and feelings, and settle on a plan to repair the harm.
Speaking in an interview with JIS News, Coordinator of the Restorative Justice Programme in the Ministry, Andriene Lindsay, said that the facilitators are being engaged after months of training.
“Restorative justice facilitator training was done online for the theory-based aspect, and it has been very successful. It is the first time we have actually had training done completely online for our facilitators. The theory element was completed in October, having started in June, so it ran for four months,” she said.
During the theory training, multiple aspects were covered, including an introduction to restorative justice in Jamaica, working with victims and offenders, communications skills, and the legal framework.
“The course also looked at general conflict resolution, customer service, and best practices in restorative justice, as well as an introduction to our forms and our database. We had 75 persons who completed that training of the 105 we started with. It is still a great achievement, with over 70 per cent completing. Now they are at the stage of doing the practicum,” she explained.
The practicum aspect of the training involves three sessions of observation of conferences in the restorative justice centres – two sessions where the trainee serves as co-facilitator in a restorative justice conference, and one session where the trainee is the lead facilitator.
“They are now completing that as well as being introduced to our database system. These are practical aspects where they look at the forms that we use, the order of our filings, and how we issue our filing numbers. That is what is happening now. All this should be completed by December 31,” Ms. Lindsay said.