Peterborough Youth Justice Committee
Funded by the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General
If your actions have caused harm in your community, and you’re between the ages of 12 and 17, a restorative justice conference may help you make things right with the people you affected.
According to the principles of restorative justice, justice is achieved when:
Victims’ needs are met.
Young people take action to repair the harm they have caused.
Community members have a role in the justice process.
Everyone is guaranteed respect.
Victims and offenders move forward peacefully.
What is a Restorative Conference?
A restorative conference occurs when a young person who has committed an offence meets with the people who have been affected by his or her actions. With the help of a trained facilitator, each person answers a series of questions about the offence and its impact on the community. Once everyone has had a chance to speak, the group brainstorms a list of steps that the young person will take to repair the harm that has been done. These steps form a conference agreement, also known as a contract, which the young person must complete by a given deadline. In Peterborough, conferences are facilitated by volunteers of the Youth Justice Committee, a program that is funded by the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.
What is Your Role?
VICTIMS OF CRIME
The people who have been affected by an offence are invited to share their feelings and experiences. These individuals have an opportunity to hear directly from the young person, gaining valuable information about what happened and why. They may attend the conference in person; elect a representative to appear on their behalf; or write a victim impact statement. If you would like to join the conference, but are not sure how, please contact the Youth Justice Committee coordinator.
The young person who is responsible for an offence has a chance to tell his or her story. As a result of hearing from victims and parents during the conference, young people often become much more aware of their impact on the community. So long as he or she follows the conference agreement, the young person will avoid having a criminal record.
If you have been referred to a restorative conference following an offence, you should be prepared to do the following:
Tell the truth about what happened in as much detail as possible.
Take responsibility for your actions—no making excuses.
Invite at least one adult supporter to accompany you to the conference.
Listen respectfully to others as they share their experiences.
Think ahead of time about what you can do to make things right.
Parents, family members, friends, and supporters are encouraged to attend. Everyone present has a voice in shaping the agreement that will help the young person restore balance to the community. Parents and guardians play an especially important role supporting their children and contributing to the conference agreement.
The Youth Justice Committee relies upon a team of skilled volunteers to facilitate restorative conferences. Community members who are interested in becoming volunteers must submit an application, attend an interview, and complete a mandatory training course. All volunteers are subject to review and approval by the Ministry of the Attorney General.
Questions for Youth
Young people who attend a conference will have to answer the following questions. Remember to tell the truth, and give as many details as possible.
What were you thinking at the time?
What have you thought about since?
Who was affected by your actions? How were they affected?
How were you affected by what happened?
What can you do now to make things right?
Outcomes for Youth
The conference agreement, also known as a contract, outlines meaningful steps that the young person will take to make things right. Everyone who attends the conference must agree upon the contract; no one person has the upper hand. However, it is important that the contract provides victims and community members with the things they need to heal and grow. Some common contract steps include:
Community service hours
Repair of property damage
An essay or project
A referral to other community agencies
Who is Eligible?
The Youth Justice Committee serves young people between the ages of 12 and 17 who are in conflict with the law. In most cases, these young people have received Extrajudicial Measures (EJM) or Extrajudicial Sanctions (EJS) from the police or the court. Before taking part in a conference, a young person must take responsibility for his or her role in an offence.
For More Information
Contact the John Howard Society:
t: (705) 743-8331