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How restorative justice changed a grieving family’s opinion of a hit-and-run driver

Feb 10, 2015

from the article by Douglas Quan in Postmedia News:

There was no ambiguity in how Coral Forslund felt when the man responsible for her sister’s hit-and-run death was finally sentenced to prison.

She “hated him.”....

But nagged by lingering questions — namely, was he remorseful for what he did? — Forslund, of Langley, B.C., reached out to a little-known federal program called Restorative Opportunities that arranges meetings between victims and offenders after sentencing. During their session in a B.C. prison, the offender broke down and Forslund heard him say for the first time that he was sorry.

“I won’t call it closure, but I was able to get past a lot of those unanswered questions and see his humanity,” she said.

Victim-offender mediation has received a bit of a profile boost in recent months. Bill C-32, the proposed Victims Bill of Rights now before Parliament, would require the Correctional Service of Canada to make sure registered victims are informed about restorative justice options, including victim-offender mediation....

In early 2013, Forslund, her sister Jill Coupe, her nephew (Ralph’s son), and nephew’s girlfriend piled into a room at a medium-security prison in Agassiz, B.C. The offender, whose back had faced the family during the trial, was now staring at them from across a table.

For about five hours, the family peppered him with questions. He talked about his case plan and the courses he was taking, then opened up in detail about stealing the car, the days leading up to it and his addiction problem....

But a breakthrough came when Forslund pointed to her nephew.

“Do you realize what you did?” she said to him. “This guy doesn't have his mother.”

The offender broke down, sobbing....

“He did accept responsibility. He did apologize and it seemed sincere.”....

Read the whole article.

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