From left: Restorative Justice Program Coordinator Jana Stocker with volunteers Louise Sallai and James Russell.

Restorative justice volunteers help youth make better choices

Surrey RCMP recognizes those who give back during National Volunteer Week (April 10-16).

During National Volunteer Week (April 10-16), the Surrey RCMP is saluting its dedicated volunteers who give back to the community through their work with Surrey detachment. One of the volunteer opportunities available with Surrey RCMP is with the Restorative Justice Program.

The Restorative Justice Program has been in operation in Surrey since 2008 and has worked with more than 1,000 offenders during that time. It is a voluntary program that supports youth and young adults who have committed crime by encouraging them to understand the effects of the harm they have caused and providing them with opportunities to make amends outside of the formal criminal justice system.

Through a “Community Justice Circle” or a “Restorative Resolution Meeting,” the Restorative Justice Program brings the offender together with either their victim or the community to focus on repairing the harm done by their crime, rather than punishment.

Recidivism rates show that Surrey offenders who successfully complete the Restorative Justice Program are less likely to re-offend, with only five per cent being charged with a criminal offence in the year after the conclusion of their file.

“The Surrey Restorative Justice Program is a win-win for victims, offenders, and the community,” said Restorative Justice Program Coordinator Jana Stocker. “The volunteers play an integral role in the success of the program by mentoring offenders while they fulfill their agreements. By focusing on support and relationship, the program offers an effective alternative to the traditional court process.”

Restorative justice volunteer Louise Sallai has been volunteering with the program since 2013. She says her experience helping youth see a connection between the decisions they make and their future is the most rewarding part of a very personal learning experience.

“Volunteering permits me to grow as a person,” said Sallai. “I volunteer eight to 16 hours per month in addition to working and taking university courses. I am particularly proud of my role as a co-facilitator in our decision making workshop where youth learn to make better decisions that positively impact their future.”

James Russell is also a volunteer and university student who donates his time to the program each month.

“I chose to volunteer as I believe that the basic principles of the Restorative Justice Program really benefit the City of Surrey as a whole,” said Russell. “The program is able to help youth repair the harm caused by their mistakes by allowing them to give back to the community and volunteer at local agencies. I have participated in community circles and meetings, helped youth work through their community agreements by volunteering at the food bank and soup kitchen, and assisted them with writing apology letters to victims.”

Stocker knows that volunteers allow the program to offer a more rounded service to the community.

“In celelebration of National Volunteer Week, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all of our hard-working Restorative Justice Program volunteers who give back to the City of Surrey,” said Stocker.

On Thursday, April 14, the Surrey RCMP will hold its annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner to recognize the dedication and contribution of its volunteers, including those in the restorative justice and crime prevention programs, and those who volunteer in RCMP district offices.

Surrey RCMP volunteers:

  • 34,375 hours contributed by volunteers in 2015;
  • 162 district office and Block Watch captain volunteers;
  • 80 auxiliary constables;
  • 14 Restorative Justice Program volunteers.

Visit the RCMP website to learn more about volunteer opportunities with the Surrey RCMP.

 

Surrey North Delta Leader

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