KINGSTON, Jamaica: Chief Justice Zaila McCalla said the judiciary fully embraces the move by government to introduce restorative justice principles within the justice system.
The Ministry of Justice is looking to apply the concept to the local court system and is currently carrying out a pilot program in four communities: Tower Hill, St. Andrew; Spanish Town, St. Catherine; May Pen, Clarendon and Granville, St. James. As a pivotal part of the activities marking the just-concluded Restorative Justice Week, four restorative justice centres have been opened in these pilot areas.
McCalla recently endorsed the move at a public lecture at the University of Technology’s (UTech) Old Hope Road campus, noting that the practice of restorative justice is critical to the reform of the justice system and increasing the confidence of citizens in the administration of justice.
She added that restorative justice has the potential to foster peace, as it places emphasis on repairing the harm suffered by victims of crime and it brings together victims, offenders and community members to decide how to achieve healing.
“The judiciary is fully committed and supports the introduction of restorative justice principles to resolve disputes and assist victims by allowing them to actively participate in the process,” McCalla said.
Director of Public Prosecution, Paula Llewellyn, also endorsed the program, saying that restorative justice offers an avenue for healing in communities that have been impacted by the negative effects of crime.
“This healing is usually necessary whether the accused has been found guilty or innocent and I believe it will assist in making sure that you do not have spinoffs in terms of retribution or vengeance from some members of the community,” Llewellyn said.
Justice Minister, Senator Mark Golding, said that restorative justice can provide sustainable solutions to some of the difficulties currently affecting Jamaica’s criminal justice system.
The principles of restorative justice have been successfully applied in many jurisdictions, including Canada.