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The problem with restorative justice

May 27, 2013

from the entry on Kwe Today:

....What I would like to write about is what I considered a major fundamental flaw of restorative justice. In particular, this type of justice is credited for being closely related to Aboriginal justice and sometimes the two are considered one in the same (which is one of the first problems). 

Let begin by premising that while this type of justice may work in some instances, it does not work in all instances especially in my case. Being a survivor of domestic violence and much of my experiences in the criminal justice system linked to domestic violence, the major problem with restorative justice especially in terms of Aboriginal women who experience domestic violence and then are arrested because of those experiences (like fighting back or making the first complaint but not in the instance of the first experience of being victimized). 

Restorative justice operates on the principle that justice needs to take place within the community (that is a positive). However, it believes that all parties should be involved including offender and victim. In cases of domestic violence, it is not always the offender that is the one who does the victimizing. Rather, the offender may also be the victim, like in my case. 

With that statement, I was the one who was arrested and I was the one who was considered the offender, and not the victim. Although very helpful to reducing the harm done to my criminal record, the restorative/Aboriginal justice route forced me to apologize for me fighting back instead of taking a beating. Kind of counter-intuitive to the whole healing process, right? 

Along with this, I was forced to partake in cultural initiatives in exchange for my freedom post charge rather than pre-charge. This meant that I had already gone through the formal process of laying of charges and being finger printed and having a history on my criminal record. Again, counter-intuitive to the whole healing process. I would have much preferred cultural services BEFORE admitting any guilt which was what my legal-aid lawyer said was my only route. 

Read the whole entry.

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Kristin Froehlich
Kristin Froehlich says:
May 27, 2013 08:13 PM

You're right. It sounds like a cookie cutter formula was used rather than identifying the real needs of the parties involved and the community.

Mai Iverson
Mai Iverson says:
May 31, 2013 11:02 PM

I am so sorry that your experience was so horrific. RJ can be a place for accountability and healing to take place and we are to do no further harm. sometimes the problem is that the "volunteer" RJ practitioners are caring community members in need of more in-depth training. had this process gone in the right direction the remark, all behaviour makes sense, would have been explored. your need to fight back due to the historical experiences you had endured for far too long should have come to light. i am sorry your experience did not take all of you to a place for deeper understanding and healing to begin. we have a long way to go. lets hope we continue to look at alternatives to punishment, with compassion and curiosity present, not judgement. namaste, m

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