PACT URBAN PEACE PROGRAM, TORONTO

Letter to the editor – Young offenders held to account

Letter to the editor

Young offenders held to account Re: Kids who hurt can also heal

March 28

In discussing victim-offender mediation as a solution to less serious youth crime, Professor Nick Bala states: “One shouldn’t overestimate what can be done in an hour or so with a young person,” and I would agree, except that we are not talking about a one-hour process.

The resolution conference that PACT arranges will last anywhere between two and five hours, and often there are several conferences. It only represents the initial dialogue initiated between the victim, offender, family, community and police.

To understand what can be accomplished in the conference, it is crucial to see firsthand the offender go through a process that shows how his or her behaviour has impacted others and then to take personal responsibility. Often an offender is wracked with sobs and guilt which proves cathartic for both offender and victim.

Finally, the process is about much more than the conference. At the conclusion of the conference, the group decides on a set of actions that the offender must follow. A binding contract is signed and monitored and may include financial restitution, lengthy community work, apology letters and anger management, all designed to create an identity shift.

Let’s face it, these kids would have been slapped on the wrist, if that, and instead, have been held to account and have been shamed, will have a chance at reintegration, and will likely not reoffend.

Terance Brouse, Community Relations,

PACT Youth Crime Reduction Program, Toronto

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