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Gov't to reduce backlog in courts with restorative justice

Published:Tuesday | August 22, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck

As part of its efforts to reduce the backlog in courts, the Ministry of Justice has sensitised 2,620 persons from April to June 2017 on its Restorative Justice Programme. The programme focuses on involving members of the community in the resolving of minor disputes before they escalate into the court system.

To date, one justice center and nine restorative justice centres have been opened island wide since the passing of the Restorative Justice Act in 2016, with the most recent restorative justice centres being opened in Tivoli Gardens and Denham Town in July 2017.

The process of restorative justice involves the use of justice conferences. The conference will bring together the offender and the victim in minor disputes as well as members of the community with trained facilitators in order to repair the harm caused by the offence and to reintegrate the offender into the community.

This community based approach to the administration of justice, places a focus on rehabilitation in order to reduce the rate of recidivism. The justice conferences are led by justices of the peace with the help of trained volunteers. Anyone seeking to resolve a dispute can request a conference by calling the Ministry of Justice.

"Restorative justice is a different way of doing justice. At the heart of the programme, is grace and forgiveness. My hope is that Jamaica realises that there is a free service available for those seeking to resolve a dispute with either their neighbours, co-workers or other members of their community," stated Kahilah Whyte, coordinator for the Restorative Justice Unit at the Ministry of Justice. "It is a pathway for transformation to a more just, secure and peaceful Jamaica."