Victims' advocate says more energy should be invested in restitution programs
Aug 29, 2011
Justice systems in the North should invest more energy in developing restitution processes that work, according to a leading Canadian victims’ advocate.
Irvin Waller, a professor at the University of Ottawa and the president of the International Organization for Victim Assistance, was a speaker at Justice for All: A Comparison of the Crime Victims’ Rights in the U.S. and Canada, put on by the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice section this morning.
“We know from the social science evidence that well-organized restorative justice, which includes restitution payments, not only increases victim satisfaction compared to the normal process, but secondly actually reduces recidivism,” Waller said. “There is a real opening here. It’s win-win all around for justice at times of austerity.”
Susan Chapman of Toronto’s Green & Chercover, said judges in Canada are reticent about granting restitution orders, in part because of the historical division between criminal and civil justice.
“There’s also the practical realty. If someone is getting four years in prison, they’re going to be hard-pressed to pay restitution,” Chapman said.
Waller cited changes to the French justice system, which give victims standing in criminal cases to seek restitution from the accused.