The Ministry of Justice will be partnering with the Ministry of Education to implement restorative practices within the education system.
“We intend to partner with the (Education) Ministry to ensure that the option is available to our schools so that we can mitigate some of the challenges that our schools face in handling conflicts,” said Permanent Secretary in the Justice Ministry, Carol Palmer.
She was speaking at the Restorative Justice Facilitators graduation and awards ceremony held on Thursday, February 7 at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston.
Miss Palmer said that efforts will also be made to implement similar practices within the various faith-based institutions across the country.
“So, if a school doesn’t have it within the compound of the school it can call on the local church where the pastor and laypersons will be able to assist the process,” she noted.
She said that the aim is to provide more peaceful means of addressing conflicts so as to reduce violence.
“We have too much violence. We need to work on the prevention side to reduce the number of incidents that go to the courts. We have to look at other means of dealing with our issues and things that are honourable, that are above reproach and that would make a difference on our nation,” the Permanent Secretary said.
For his part, Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, stated that the Restorative Justice Programme is expanding with the recent opening of restorative centres in August Town and Trench Town in Kingston; and Russia in Westmoreland.
“I am hoping that it will be so successful that when the programme ends and it’s a funded programme by the Inter-American Development Bank, that the results of the programme would have manifested and that the Government will see it fit and necessary to ensure it continues and is expanded to become a national programme in every parish in Jamaica,” Senator Golding expressed.
Restorative justice is a process whereby all the parties with a stake in a particular dispute that has taken place, come together to resolve, collectively, how to deal with the aftermath of the offence and its implications for the future.
It is a different way of thinking about crime and conflict, and focuses on holding the offender accountable in a more meaningful way.
Restorative justice seeks to repair the harm caused by the offence, helps to reintegrate the offender into the community and helps to achieve a sense of healing for both the victim and the community.
The Government, since February of last year, has been rolling out the Restorative Justice Programme, as an important element in the quest to improve the justice system in Jamaica and ensure access to justice for all citizens.
Seven restorative justice pilot centres have been opened since then, with three of these launched since Monday, February 4, as part of Restorative Justice Week activities.
The Restorative Justice Programme seeks to create a culture of peace through effective processes that emphasize the values of mutual respect, dignity and concern, in an environment of healing, reconciliation and restoration.