JIS News

Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Dorothy Lightbourne, has said that the practice of restorative justice will bring back calm, safety and unity to communities by peacefully resolving unrest that is caused by minor offences.
“We have to use other methods of resolving our conflicts. We must move away from violence and retribution and move towards community reconciliation, equipping our citizens and communities with new and peaceful means of settling disagreements and at the same time, achieving an outcome in which all parties are satisfied that justice was done,” she stated.
Senator Lightbourne, who is also the Attorney General, was speaking yesterday (February 10) at the launch of the Tower Hill restorative and community justice pilot programme at the Seaward Primary and Junior High School in Kingston.
While noting that the programme will not replace the formal justice system, she said it will help to ease the burden on the system by dealing with offences such as petty theft, burglaries, graffiti, loitering, shoplifting, assault, battery and other anti-social behaviour, which may affect the community from time to time.
Tower Hill is one of four communities across the island to benefit under the pilot project, which is being implemented by the Ministry. The others are: Spanish Town,
St. Catherine; May Pen, Clarendon; and Granville, St. James. The project has already been launched in Granville, St. James.
Senator Lightbourne informed that 57 residents in the targeted communities have already been prepared as trainers in restorative and community justice practices, with another training session slated to be held soon.
She advised that a panel, chaired by a Justice of the Peace, and trained in restorative justice principles and processes, will be established in each community to hear and resolve grievances brought by community members.
She implored residents of Tower Hill, who have the trust and respect of their community members and neighbours to participate in the pilot project and to represent the community without fear or bias so that the project can make a meaningful impact.
The main goals of the pilot project are: to change the culture of silence by encouraging the sharing of information to ensure that offenders are caught and reported to the restorative and community justice panels; to support the work of the justice system and its agencies; identify tasks for offenders and support rehabilitation and reintegration; improve the safety and well-being of the community as citizens collaborate with the police to prevent and respond to crime; to deal with disputes as soon as they occur to ensure they do not escalate; and to initiate solutions to problem behaviour.
Restorative and community justice is a process which brings together the victim, offender, the community and the state in dialogue to address the problems arising from petty crime and other grievances within the community.
The objective is to rectify the harm done to the victim and to help him/her to forgive the offender and move on with their lives. It equally allows the offender to be accountable for his/her actions and engages the community in resolution of the conflict. By this, the community is strengthened as it comes together to deal with its problems and prevent further harm.

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