Crime is basically an act of disrespect against people. It is a violation against our very humanity because when important things around us are taken away, important things inside us, like a sense of safety, trust, peace of mind, are also taken away. A justice process should ultimately restore whatever was taken away as much as possible. While the resolution of crime has legal implications because a law was broken, it also has personal and relational implications because something between people was also broken. By addressing the actual harms done, restorative justice aims to mend the areas of brokenness, giving special attention to the needs of victims.
“I’m so glad for a program that supports the victim of a crime and holds the offender responsible for his or her actions.” — victim of a theft case
A strong community is one that supports all victims of crime. The first question to victims should always be, “How can we help you?” Victims should always define their own needs and preferences. The most basic needs have to do with safety, support, and perhaps restitution for losses. As victims face resolution processes, they typically indicate an interest to have:
a CHOICE of options
a VOICE in resolution
A restorative process involving victims and impacted parties always involves an initial meeting just with a victim party to learn about the victim’s experience, and to explain options within the restorative program. At this stage, a victim is not committing to anything. It is simply a time to learn more, and perhaps more importantly, to be fully heard. Confidentiality and voluntariness are two high priorities. By the end of this initial meeting, BCRJP staff and/or volunteers will explain next steps.
If you are a victim of a crime that has affected you (and perhaps others too), please know that we will walk with you at the pace you set, and honor your preferences as things progress. Our goal is to support you in a way that helps you move forward.
Meanwhile, BCRJP staff will be contacting the offender to set up a separate meeting. An assessment will be made of an offender’s…
- Level of ownership and remorse
- Capacity for empathy and new learning
- Resolve to make reparation and personal change
After this preparation time, there are several options for advancing toward the Resolution Meeting stage. Every Resolution Meeting (or Restorative Conference) has two trained facilitators that have already built relationship with all people involved in a case. To learn about the different conferencing options, see our Restorative Conference Options page.
“The experience of being respectfully heard opened the door for me to have resolution. With the relief that comes with being understood, I could not have moved forward. When I look back at an event that would otherwise have been a terrible memory, I have gratitude beyond what any other justice could provide.”
– victim of a harassment offense
Sometimes people in a conflict or dispute situation can be deeply harmed and affected by the actions of other people and circumstances. Often, these situations involve a parallel progression of mistrust and blocked communication, which always go hand-in-hand. If you are in such a situation that does not involve a registered crime, please refer to our Serving People in Conflict page for further resources.