More restorative justice centres to be established
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The Ministry of Justice will be taking steps to bring more restorative justice centres on stream at the community and parish levels this year.
This was disclosed by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Carol Palmer, while addressing a recent restorative justice conference at the Spanish Court Hotel in St Andrew.
Nine restorative justice centres have been established across the island since the passing of the Restorative Justice Act in 2016. In addition, two parish justice centres have been set up in St Ann and Portland, and these will be complemented by others during the year.
Palmer said that 200 restorative conferences have been convened, bringing together victims, offenders and members of the community with trained facilitators for healing and forgiveness. Approximately 1,662 persons have benefited from these sessions, with 189 agreements reached between victims and offenders.
The permanent secretary said it is her vision for Jamaica to stand out in the Caribbean and the world as a restorative justice society.
“As an alternative model, restorative justice provides the opportunity for everyone to participate in peace-building and social transformation. Restorative justice focuses on the needs of victims and offenders, and complements the litigious processes of the courts,” she noted.
She said that the model challenges stakeholders to examine the root causes of crime and violence in order to break the cycles.
“It is an approach based on the assumption that crime has its origins in social conditions; therefore, communities must also take some responsibility for remedying those conditions that contribute to crime, and work to promote healing,” she pointed out.
She said the Ministry has brought on board “justices of the peace, educators, faith leaders, upstanding leaders in communities across Jamaica, retired and working age, young and mature, uptown, downtown and around town, rural and urban, to become architects of peace as restorative justice facilitators”.
She is urging others to “join us in the forgiveness and rehabilitation of offenders, the healing and empowerment of victims and the building of trust in communities”.