Community Justice Centre of Comox Valley.
The Comox Valley Community Justice Centre opened in September 1998 to offer community members a forum to resolve conflicts. It deals with minor property crimes, theft, fraud, possession of stolen property, minor vandalism, bullying, and minor assaults. Through resolution conferences, complainants (victims) and respondents (offenders) have the opportunity to meet face-to-face and to express their feelings to one another. The complainants are able to explain to the respondent(s) how a particular incident affected them and/or their family and friends. The respondents are given the chance to take responsibility for their actions. Together with the facilitator and panel members, everyone determines the best course of action to make amends.
Once each conference agreement is successfully completed, the respondents, complainants and referring agency (usually the R.C.M.P.) are informed, by mail, of the completion. Included with each letter to the respondent and complainant is an evaluation form for the entire process. Both parties receive the same form, asking if the resolution conference was useful, satisfactory and effective. These three questions are each graded on a scale from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’, including the option of choosing ‘no opinion.’ Another question also asks if the respondent or complainant would be willing to attend another conference. Finally, there is space for the respondents or complainants to provide any additional opinions or comments.
From 1998 to 2002, a total of 118 Evaluations were returned to the Community Justice Centre. Of the evaluations returned, 71 were from complainants (60%) and 47 were from respondents (40%). The return rate of the evaluation forms is much smaller than the actual number of successfully completed conference agreements that occurred in the same time period.
According to the results of all the returned questionnaires, the vast majority of the 118 complainants and respondents have found the resolution conferences and their outcomes successful.
92% (109 individuals) agreed or strongly agreed that the conference was useful
83% (98 individuals) agreed or strongly agreed that the conference was satisfactory
81% (95 individuals) agreed or strongly agreed that the conference was effective
88% (104 individuals) would be willing to attend another resolution conference
Only eight respondents said that they would not attend another resolution conference.
It is unfortunate that the Community Justice Centre has not received a larger return of its evaluation forms that would be more representative of the large numbers of conference agreements that were successfully completed between 1998 and 2002. However, it must be said that throughout the completion of every conference agreement, all respondents and complainants have many opportunities to speak with the Centre coordinators to discuss any problems that they may be having with the process and to determine any solutions that will secure the completion of the agreement that has already been agreed upon by all parties. In fact, the coordinators maintain regular contact between the respondents and complainants to ensure that everyone is satisfied with any restitution, community service hours, letters of apology or other requirements that have been deemed necessary to bring the conference agreement to a successful end.
In conclusion, the fact that the majority of cases that the Community Justice Centre brings to Resolution Conferences are successfully completed may be the main explanation as to why there have been relatively few Evaluation forms returned. If all parties are happy with the end result, they may not find it necessary to be further involved beyond attending the Resolution Conference and/or meeting the responsibilities of the Conference Agreement.
For more information visit http://www.cjccomoxvalley.iscn.ca/