CERA's mission is to enhance the
quality of justice in the
communities we serve through
- Revise board governance for fitting structures that are accountable with clear, aligned roles and responsibilities for optimum Society management;
- Identify and source new areas of funding to expand budget and services;
- Increase Society visibility, understanding and programs to become a household name;
- Review, assess and revise with vision, reason and courage from a restorative justice perspective.
The main objective of CERA is to implement restorative justice programs for individuals in the communities we serve, with the following program specific objectives:
- Provide an effective alternative to the court system:
The Community Youth Justice Program ("CYJP") frees police, courts, probation agencies, and correction agencies to apply their scarce resources in other areas. Cases handled by the CYJP will also be resolved much more quickly than in the traditional justice process. Perhaps most importantly, the restorative justice process has proven to be a very satisfactory experience for persons harmed, persons causing harm, and support persons. The CYJP meets community demand for the services of the program within the limits of available funding and with a sustainable base of volunteers.
- Promote accountability:
An acknowledgement of responsibility by the person's causing harm is important to the person's harmed, but also holds important benefits for person's causing harm as well. The group conferencing model used in the CYJP achieves accountability in a setting that allows the person causing harm to be supported by parents or other significant people in his or her life. It also allows the person causing harm to have a voice in the resolution of the offence. In this context, fostering accountability for behaviour promotes feelings of self-pride and increases self-esteem for many person's causing harm.
- Provide a just and meaningful response to crime:
Restorative justice programs seek to provide a just response to crime, with healing and closure for all parties. Unlike some traditional responses to crime, the CYJP seeks not only a fair outcome, but also that the process will be regarded as equitable by all participants. The specific harm that has been done is addressed through means such as direct restitution to the person harmed and/or reparation to the wider community. It is significant that the person causing harm, the person harmed, and members of the community who support each of them are involved in the response process.
- Rehabilitate person's causing harm:
The rehabilitation of person's causing harm is one of the ideal outcomes of a restorative justice process. Starting with the belief that the person causing harm remains capable of positively contributing to the community, the CYJP is geared toward early intervention, and acknowledges and attempts to address the factors and influences in the person's life which led to the offence. The program works toward a resolution that allows the person harmed and the person causing harm to move past the criminal incident, and to resume their place in the community, thus reducing the chance of future offences. Follow up is important in making sure the agreement is acted upon and that the participants receive referrals to community agencies where appropriate.
- Reconcile those involved with a criminal act:
Fundamental goals of the CYJP include reconciliation between the person harmed and person causing harm, reconciliation between each of them and their immediate support network and reintegration of all parties into the community. CYJP conferences directly involve person's causing harm with person's harmed and their respective support networks in negotiating a reasonable conference reparation agreement that is seen through to completion. The CYJP is based on the belief that resolving conflict, restoring balance to relationships and strengthening community ties will ultimately create communities where crime is minimized. Such communities will also be much more able to respond to victimization when it does arise and to support person's harmed.
- Engage the community:
The community is a crucial component in any restorative approach to crime and conflict. The CYJP emphasizes the potential of communities to build peace through strong, inclusive relationships. The body of volunteer facilitators who are the basis of our program not only reflects the level of support for the program within the community, they also constitute a significant community resource. The CYJP produces a group of citizens with an understanding of restorative justice principles and mediation skills that can be taken into their families and communities.
- Offer preventative programs: CERA also has an Empowering Youth program where we teach young people in schools about restorative justice principles. This program is aimed at prevention to give young people information before conflict or crime emerges and builds peaceful, strong, inclusive relationships as early as possible.