Community-based restorative justice aims to prevent reoffending and encourage youth to take accountability for their actions through skill-building programs. Incarceration is the formal approach focusing on removing the person from society. Unlike formal incarceration, community-based work focuses on the youth, their environment, and the skills that can help them in the future. As a result, communities will have less crime and youth will grow into contributing members of society. Safe communities is the goal, but to get there, we need to understand the existing pathways in our society that lead a person to break the law.
Why should we focus on the whole community?
Family break-up, peer pressure, unemployment, and lack of safe housing can all lead to illegal involvement. Unfortunately, these challenges are everywhere in Canada. Community-based restorative justice looks at the whole picture, finding any potential influence for illicit behaviour and preparing the youth for the challenges they will face. Community programs help young people create healthy, meaningful relationships and find jobs to contribute to society. Canada has made a push for more youth community reintegration programming. As a result, youth incarceration rates have significantly decreased, improving communities across the country.
On the other hand, formal incarceration ignores the person’s environment. When this happens, we fail to prepare our teens to return to their homes and react differently. In fact, young offenders without community-based reintegration programming are far more likely to reoffend than those with community supports. We have seen how community-based restorative justice acts as the steppingstone to personal change and crime prevention. Without this learning step, young people will continue to reoffend well into their adult lives.
Where does Fernie fit into this?
Fernie Youth Services supports a young person’s journey from housing, employment, education, and life goals. With restorative justice at the core of our beliefs, youth are allowed to succeed and become productive members of their communities. The Fernie Works program has seen remarkable transformations by prioritizing employment with community reintegration. Fernie Works provides youth with positive community connections, support from dedicated youth workers, an opportunity to build themselves, effective support systems, mentoring, and follow-up education. This program removes the stigma and creates opportunities through a community-based restorative justice approach, encouraging youth success in Canada.
Supporting Fernie Youth Services means telling each young person that they have so much to offer, not just to an employer or a school, but to the world.
Written by Nolan Broome.
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