JIS News

The Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with the Bethlehem Moravian College in Malvern, St. Elizabeth, will host a restorative and community justice conference on Wednesday (February 2), specifically targeting young offenders.

The conference will be held under the theme “Restorative Justice; An Early Response to Young Offenders”, and will take place at the Golf View Hotel, Mandeville, starting at 8:30 am.

Acting Principal of the Bethlehem Moravian College, Yvonne Clarke, explained during a JIS interview that the conference will accommodate at least 200 persons. Members of the target audience include social workers, probation officers, lawyers, teachers, guidance counselors and members of the church community.

Keynote speaker will be Dr. Oko Elechi, from the Department of Juvenile Justice and Psychology at Prairie View A&M University in the United States. Topics to be discussed will also include diversion strategies for the mentally ill, juvenile offenders and mediation training.

Mrs. Clarke pointed out that, at the end of the conference, she hopes that participants will realize the importance of restorative and community justice.

“We are hoping that persons will now be able to see that we want to foster this kind of principle in our communities, because if we look at the principles governing restorative justice it requires that we work to heal victims, offenders and communities…It can provide an important set of guidelines for repairing harm and that is the ultimate goal,” she stated.

Justice Reform Coordinator at the Ministry of Justice, Beverley Little, emphasized during a recent Think Tank session that the feedback to restorative and community justice (RCJ) has been very positive.

“It’s as though people have been waiting for some kind of alternative for a long time, and so the response has been positive. RCJ is not a quick fix nor is it a cure all. We are very pleased with how communities have warmed towards the process and the philosophy, and they are using it to resolve issues in families, schools, churches and at the community level,” she noted.

RCJ Week will be celebrated under the theme “Restorative and Community Justice Restoring Relationships; Building Communities”, January 30 to February 5.