Greening up Fort St. James Society (GUF) is asking for restorative justice for the four accused in the destruction of the GUF recycling centre.
The four young men who are facing charges of arson in relation to the fire which completely destroyed the newly built recycling centre in May of 2012 after years of work by volunteers could be given the options of restorative justice or going the traditional criminal justice system route.
Restorative justice includes the victims and the community in the justice process and victims related to the crime are given the opportunity to speak and play a role in the process, while offenders are then encouraged to take responsibility for their actions. The prpocess is also meant to prevent reoffending by the criminals involved.
Louise Evans-Salt of GUF presented at the May 22 council meeting in Fort St. James, asking the council to write a letter in support of their application to the Crown Council asking for restorative justice in the case of the four young men who stand accused in the incident.
“We really believe that this would be effective for those young people and for us as a community and for GUF as a society,” said Evans-Salt, who has been involved in restorative justice proceedings previously.
She spoke of how devastating the fire was for the society and said restorative justice would help them because they could have a voice in the process.
“Ideally, it would be to have those young people understand what they’ve done,” she said.
Councillor Riley Willick spoke in favour of the letter, as a person who worked on building the facility twice over now he said he would support something which helps the perpetrators understand the time and work invested in the facility.
Councillor Joan Burdeniuk also spoke in favour of the motion, point out the goal in justice should be to educate and reform.
Mayor Rob MacDougall said he would like to see restorative justice brought back into the community.
“I think it’s a local solution, which is great,” he said.
The council present voted unanimously in favour of a letter in support of GUF’s request for restorative justice in the case.