An Exploration of Restorative Justice Using the Adult Diversion Program of Saskatoon Community Mediation Services (SCMS).
For Indigenous communities, Canada’s criminal justice system has been colonial and oppressive. A noticeable impact of the criminal justice system has been the increase in the overrepresentation of Indigenous people incarcerated in the prisons and jail. This among other developments, has necessitated the usage and implementation of restorative approach to justice, to complement the criminal justice system in finding lasting solution to crimes, conflicts, and social dysfunctions. Within the restorative justice approach are the ideas and practices that can contribute to healing the victims, the offenders, and the communities involved, rather than inflicting punishment (Melton, 1995). Using the Adult Diversion Program of Saskatoon Community Mediation Services (SCMS), the study explored restorative justice from the perspective of practitioners who facilitate and coordinate the program. The study was hinged on Pierre Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice, and his three concepts of habitus, capital and social field were used to explain the social practice of restorative justice. Data was collected using a qualitative methodological approach, consisting of participant observation, and one-on-one, open-ended interviews. The findings from the study clearly indicates the role of the government, duties of caseworkers, and crown discretion in the procedure and processes of the restorative justice program. Further findings also show the impact of restorative justice as meeting the needs of victims and offenders, holding offenders responsible and accountable, providing help and support to participants, contribution to community safety, and cost effectiveness of the program. In addition to this, they situate the factors responsible for compliance with the process and outcome of restorative justice as economic and symbolic capital identified by Bourdieu, rather than cultural background of participants. The challenges identified also border around insufficient funding, low public awareness, staff turnover, and need for more staff training.
Restorative Justice, Alternative Measures
Master of Arts (M.A.)