The car window is smashed in. and there is glass everywhere. I look up and down my quiet street in Victoria, wondering how this could happen. “They’ve taken my passport and about $50” reports my friend, Rachel. All the blood has drained from her face and she is shaking. A car break-in is a petty crime in the grand scheme of things, but she still feels violated and vulnerable. She is just one of thousands of people who every day become a victim of crime.
Every single one of us has been touched by crimes ranging from theft to the extremes of rape and murder. In some cases, the offender is ‘brought to justice’ and punished for their crime. The criminal justice system is necessary and important, however because it deals in the world of black and white, good and bad, right and wrong – it does not have the tools and environment to create true closure and healing for the victims of crime, or the offenders.
Restorative Justice seeks to change that and champion a different approach to justice. They provide a forum where victims take an active role in the process and are given a chance to represent themselves and have a voice.
Offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions, to repair the harm they’ve done in meaningful ways, for example by apologizing, returning stolen money, or doing relevant community service. The focus is on repairing the harm, preventing reoffending, and reintegrating everyone back into the community.
Restorative Justice has proved effective in restoring relationships even in the most awful and serious of situations, including murder. Visit the Restorative Justice Victoria website (http://rjvictoria.wordpress.com/) to read the remarkable story of how a Victoria father, Manjit Virk, found himself shaking hands with his daughter’s killer.
Restorative Justice is just one of the great causes we’ll be supporting with Regimojo. If you would like to tell us about a good cause you support, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.