Nova Scotia Restorative Justice Program
Through the Nova Scotia Restorative Justice Program, those who have been affected by criminal harms (individuals and community) have the opportunity to work with those responsible or who contributed to what happened together with others who can offer support to consider the contexts, causes, circumstances, and impacts of an incident. The Nova Scotia Restorative Justice Program supports processes that aim to address the issues, harms and needs of those involved and to develop plans for the future. These plans include commitments by those with responsibilities for what happened to take specific actions to address the harms caused.
Restorative justice has been shown to increase the satisfaction by individuals and communities affected by crime and ensures that those affected can have a voice and role in the process. This results in more meaningful and effective outcomes for both those affected and those responsible for harms. Offenders who participate in restorative justice are less likely to repeat their actions.
With strong support from justice system stakeholders, the program is rooted in the community and delivered by Regional Restorative Justice Teams with expertise from eight community-based restorative justice agencies and Community Corrections staff.
Starting as a pilot for youth in 1999, the Nova Scotia Restorative Justice Program was established for youth across the province in 2001 and was expanded to include adults in 2016.
The restorative justice process
When a Restorative Justice Regional Team accepts a referral, team members will contact all of the parties involved to understand the issues, needs and impacts related to the incident.
They will then design the process, including the number, form and nature of sessions that might be held. The goal is to engage the parties in appropriate ways to come to understand and determine:
- what happened
- what matters about what happened (including harms and impacts)
- what needs to happen to address the harms and impacts in a way that will ensure a just outcome and just relations in future
Generally, a restorative process will involve one or more sessions that bring together those who are connected to the case. These people can include, as appropriate:
- those who have been harmed or otherwise affected
- those who hold responsibilities for those harms
- those who can offer information or support the process
The plans, actions and outcomes of a restorative process vary depending on the situation, circumstances, issues and needs involved in each case. The agreements and expectations that are part of the plan are recorded and shared with the parties and as required with justice stakeholders. The Restorative Justice Regional Team provides follow-up support and supervision as required to ensure plans are successfully completed.
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