The theme for Restorative Justice Week 2012, which is being held between Nov. 18 and 25, is “Diverse Needs; Unique Responses.”
This theme was chosen because it recognizes that restorative justice addresses the various needs of people impacted by crime and conflict that are created when a person has been harmed or treated unfairly.
A restorative justice process is one in which the parties with a stake in the resolution of a harmful occurrence are supported and voluntarily participate in a discussion of the circumstances surrounding what has happened.
Mickey Balas, the co-ordinator of the Golden Community Restorative Justice Program, has been with the group for many years.
“I originally got involved because I was on the community liaison committee with the RCMP. The Staff Sergeant needed a co-ordinator and asked me, so I decided to take the position.”
Balas took part in a justice institute training session in Golden which helped her become qualified to be a member of the group.
Golden has the second oldest restorative justice program in British Columbia according to Balas who has many reasons why she thinks this program can help people in different ways.
“It is healthy for the community and if you care about your community you want to know that these type of issues are being dealt with in a respectful way,” she said. “It is restorative and punitive. It brings the victim and the offender to a point of feeling good about themselves again.”
Balas said bringing both the offender and victim back to a good place is vital because people need to be able to repair themselves in these situations.
She added that she has seen situations where people started a mediation without being able to look at each other and by the end they were hugging each other.
“I thought about how powerful this is,” she said.
Balas also felt that she does not see where time in a courtroom can lead to anyone healing like they do through the Restorative Justice system.
Golden RCMP Sgt. Troy Durand believes the program is a great benefit for all of those people who become involved with it.
“It is a very valued program. What it is designed for works very well. It brings the victim and offender together and lets the accused listen to how what happened affected the victim,” he said. “You never get to feel this in court.”
Anyone interested in learning more about what the group does can contact Balas through the RCMP in Golden