A Restorative Justice Panel is a group of 4 to 6 trained community member volunteers who meet with a person who has done harm (participant), and harmed parties when possible, over a period of 90 days. During this period, the panel works with the people involved to discuss the impact of the crime and ways in which they can make fair and reasonable amends. An individual must take responsibility for their part in the crime in order to be eligible to participate.
The panel works with participants and those they have harmed by exploring the following:
- Who has been harmed?
- What are their needs?
- What needs to happen in order to repair the harm or begin to make things right?
- What does the participant need to learn in order to avoid re-offending?
Together the participant and the panel form contracts that have the participant addressing the above questions, and working towards repairing the harm.
Victims are contacted by the BCJC and are invited to be a part of the process either through direct participation or by some other means that meets the victim’s needs. They are invited to the process to ask questions, let the participant know how they were affected, and to help develop the contracts for reparations. Victims may choose to:
- Attend a panel meeting and engage in the process.
- Write down what they want to be communicated to the participant at the meeting
- Meet with panel members only
- Not participate at all
Restorative Justice Panels meet monthly here at the Justice Center :
First Monday of the month from 12:00-2:00
First Monday of the month from 6:30 – 8:30
First Tuesday of the month from 12:00-2:00
First Wednesday of the month from 6:30-8:30
First Thursday of the month from 6:30-8:30
Third Tuesday of the month from 5:30-7:30
Third Wednesday of the month from 5:30 – 7:30
Steps of the Panel Process
Panel Establishes Common Ground
- Everyone introduces themselves including the participant, harmed parties, panelists, and guests
- Overview of reparative process
- Ground rules are presented
- Participant goals are presented
- To learn about the impact of the crime on victims and community
- Make a plan to avoid reoffending
All Understand the Impact of the Harm
- If applicable, victim shares the impact of the offense
- Participant is asked to restate how the victim was impacted
- Victim acknowledges that participant understands how they were impacted
- Panel asks participant to state harm to the community and victim (if not present)
- Panelist states how the community has been impacted
Participant Accepts Responsibility
- Panel asks participant about what thoughts/feelings they had at the time
- Participant identifies and takes responsibility for their part in the incident
- Participant acknowledges without excuses that what they did was wrong
All Collectively Develop a Plan to Address the Harm
- Victim states what they need from participant to make amends
- Participant responds to victims’ expectations
- Participant states how they might make amends to the community
- Panel states what it needs from the participant to restore harm to the community
- Panel asks the participant how they would handle this situation in the future
- All explore ways for the participant to avoid reoffending
- All craft an agreement that accomplishes the reparative goals
- Agreement is signed by participant, panelist, and victim is given the option to sign