WHAT IS RESTORATIVE JUSTICE?
Restorative Justice is a process through which remorseful offenders accept responsibility for their misconduct, particularly to their victims and to the community. It creates obligation to make things right through proactive involvement of victims, ownership of the offender of the crime and the community in search for solutions which promote repair, reconciliation and reassurance. Thus, the restorative justice process is actively participated in by the victim, the offender, and/or any individual or community member affected by the crime to resolve conflicts resulting from the criminal offense, often with the help of a fair and impartial third party. Examples of restorative process include mediation, conferencing, sentencing/support circle and the like. The restorative outcome is the agreement obtained as a product of a restorative justice process. Examples of restorative outcomes include restitution, community work service and any other program or response designed to accomplish reparation of the victim, and the reintegration of the victims and/or offenders.
HOW WAS RESTORATIVE JUSTICE ADOPTED IN THE PHILIPPINES?
The Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, of which the Philippines is a member-country, through a draft resolution, recommended to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations Organization (UNO), the adoption of the “Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters”. The said document is a formulation of UN Standard in the field of mediation and restorative justice. The Philippines, being a signatory member-country should ensure adoption of this resolution.
Consequently, the goal of the government is to establish a more enlightened and humane correctional system that will promote the reformation of offenders and thereby reduce the incidence of recidivism. This is in line with the applicable laws, rules, and policies mandating this Agency to administer the Parole and Probation System in the country. As such, the Parole and Probation Administration (PPA) is empowered to create innovative policies, programs, and activities to facilitate the reintegration of its clientele into the mainstream of society and consequently prevent the commission of crime. Therefore, PPA adopts Restorative Justice as one of its rehabilitation programs which utilizes restorative processes and aims to achieve restorative outcomes.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF RESTORATIVE JUSTICE AS A REHABILITATION PROGRAM OF PPA?
- Reintegration of the offenders to the social mainstream and encouraging them to assume active responsibility for the injuries inflicted to the victims;
- Proactive involvement of the community to support and assist in the rehabilitation of victims and offenders;
- Attention to the needs of the victims, survivors and other persons affected by the crime as participating stakeholders in the criminal justice system, rather than mere objects or passive recipients of services of intervention that may be unwanted, inappropriate or ineffective;
- Healing the effects of the crime or wrongdoing suffered by the respective stakeholders; and
- Prevention of further commission of crime and delinquency.
HOW IS RESTORATIVE JUSTICE IMPLEMENTED IN PPA?
A. During the Investigation Stage
Information such as victims’ version of the offense, effect of victimization to their lives, families, future, and plans, and victims’ appreciation on how the damage/harm inflicted by the crime can be repaired and healed are gathered to serve as input in the post-sentence investigation (PSI) or pre-parole/executive clemency investigation (PPI) reports prepared by the investigating officer to be submitted to the Court and the Board of Pardons and Parole, respectively. These data are vital in the conduct of restorative justice processes during the supervision phase.
Soliciting stakeholders’ interest for their introduction to the restorative process commences during this stage.
B. During the Supervision Stage
Restorative Justice Program is a part of the rehabilitation of the client which is incorporated in the client’s Supervision Treatment Plan (STP). In applying the various restorative justice processes for the client’s rehabilitation, the supervising officer observes the following points:
The parties are brought within the program out of their own volition. Parties have the right to seek legal advice before and after the restorative justice process;
Before agreeing to participate in the restorative justice process, the parties are fully informed of their rights, the nature of the process, and the possible consequences of their decision;
Neither the victim nor the offender is induced by unfair means to participate in restorative justice processes or outcomes;
Discussion in restorative justice processes should be highly confidential and should not be disclosed subsequently, except with the consent of the parties, and should not be used against the parties involved;
Where no agreement can be made between the parties, the case is withdrawn from the restorative justice process; and
In the event agreement is reached by parties, it is put in writing to give substance/essence to the agreement. The failure to implement any provision of the agreement made in the course of the restorative justice process is a basis for the withdrawal of the case from the program.
WHAT ARE THE ROLES OF THE PROBATION AND PAROLE OFFICERS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF RESTORATIVE JUSTICE?
A Probation and Parole Officer assigned to handle investigation and supervision caseloads acts as restorative justice planner. As such, he/she undertakes the following responsibilities:
- Identifies and recommends to the Chief Probation and Parole Officer (CPPO) potential case for Peacemaking Encounter;
- Conducts dialogue to explore the possibility of restorative justice process;
- Coordinates/collaborates with responsible members and leaders of community for their participation in the conference;
- Serves as facilitator-strength in the conference;
- Assists in healing process of stakeholders based on the Supervision Treatment Plan; and
- Prepares casenotes reflective of restorative justice values and utilizing the following points:
- Impact of crime and effect of victimization
- Victim inputs and involvement opportunities
- Offender opportunity to take direct responsibility for the harm inflicted on the victim and/or the community.
A CPPO engages in the following responsibilities:
- Approves cases for Peace Encounter Conference and issues office orders; and
- Implements and monitors plans and agreements achieved during the conference and sets direction to realize success of the process.
WHAT ARE THE PROCEDURAL SAFEGUARDS TO BE OBSERVED IN APPLYING THE RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PROCESSES TO RESOLVE CONFLICTS ARISING FROM THE CRIMINAL OFFENSE?
The clients must admit the offense to be eligible for the conference, and if possible, they should be encouraged to take full responsibility;
A personal visit by the Restorative Justice planner may be necessary to solicit interest and willingness of stakeholders to participate in the restorative process;
The victims’ preference for the time, date and place of the meeting should be given greatest weight;
Restorative Justice planners should also get in touch with community strengths to serve as facilitator like local officials, members of the Lupon Tagapamayapa or any responsible and respected personalities in the locality;
A pre-conference meeting with the selected facilitators prior to the actual conduct of peace encounter conference should be set to carefully plan for all the details, from the sitting arrangements and refreshments to the box of tissue papers which incidentally would let participants know that display of emotions is okay;
A pre-conference meeting could likewise be arranged separately with individual stakeholders to explain the process and other vital details of the conference;
The Restorative Justice planner should ensure that everyone knows how to get to the location site of the conference;
Facilitators should ensure that the conference shall be conducted without interruption in a comfortable location and shall secure the safety of all stakeholders;
Stakeholders shall also be consulted relative to the composition of the panel of facilitators. Any party may move to oppose the inclusion of persons by reason of relationship, bias, interest or other similar grounds that may adversely affect the process; and
Indigenous system of settling differences or disputes shall accordingly be recognized and utilized to conform with the customs and tradition of that particular cultural community.
WHAT ARE THE RESTORATIVE JUSTICE MODELS THAT CAN BE APPLIED IN PPA?
Peacemaking Encounter is a community-based gathering that brings the victim, the victimized community, and the offender together. It supports the healing process of the victims by providing a safe and controlled setting for them to meet and speak with the offender on a confidential and strictly voluntary basis. It also allows the offender to learn about the impact of the crime to the victim and his/her family, and to take direct responsibility for his/her behavior. Likewise, it provides a chance for the victim and the offender to forge a mutually acceptable plan that addresses the harm caused by the crime.
As a community-based decision model, the Agency Peacemaking Encounter is being implemented through the following processes:
- Victim/Offender Mediation – a process that provides an interested victim an opportunity to meet face-to-face his/her offender in a secured and structured setting or atmosphere, with the help of a trained mediator, and engage in a discussion of the past offense and its impact to his/her life. Its goal is to support the healing process of the victim and allow the offender to learn the impact of his/her offense on the victim’s physical, emotional and financial existence, and take direct responsibility for his/her behavior by mutually developing a Restorative Justice plan that addresses the harm caused by the said offense.
- Conferencing – a process which involves community of people most affected by the crime – the victim and the offender and their families, the affected community members and trained facilitators and community strength – in a restorative discussion of issues and problems arising from an offense or coincidence which affects community relationship and tranquillity. Facilitated by a trained facilitator, the above parties are gathered at their own volition to discuss how they and others have been harmed by the offense or conflict, and how that harm may be repaired and broken relationship may be restored.
- Circle of Support – a community directed process organized by the field office and participated in by the clients, the Volunteer Probation Aides (VPAs) and selected members of the community in the discussion of the offense and its impact. Within the circle, people freely speak from the heart in a shared search for understanding the incident, and together identify the steps necessary to assist in the reconciliation and healing of all affected parties and prevent future crime or conflict.
In the Agency, the circle of support is facilitated by trained Probation and Parole Officers, Volunteer Probation Aides or selected community leaders who offered their services free of charge to serve as facilitator or keeper.
In implementing this process, the probation and parole officer should be the facilitator who is sensitive to the needs of the victim. Likewise, the probation and parole officer should exert effort to protect the safety and interest of the victim.
WHAT ARE THE OUTCOMES OR INTERVENTIONS WHICH CAN BE AGREED UPON DURING THE RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PROCESS?
As a result of the restorative justice process, the following outcomes or interventions may be agreed upon by parties in a Restorative Justice discussion, such as, but not limited to:
Restitution is a process upon which the offender accepts accountability for the financial and/or non-financial losses he/she may have caused to the victim. Restitution is a “core” victim’s right which is very crucial in assisting the redirection of the victim’s life. Part of the conditions of probation as imposed by the Court is the payment of civil liability to indemnify the victim of the offender, and to inculcate to the offender a sense of responsibility and obligation towards the community.
Consequently, the probation and parole officer should see to it that the offender complies with this condition.
B. Community Work Service
Community Work Service, whether imposed as a condition of offender’s conditional liberty or integral part of his treatment plan, should be purposely motivated to make the offender realize that he/she incurred an obligation to make things right. In its application, the offender can be subjected to perform work service measures, including, but not limited to any of the following:
- Mentoring and Intergenerational Service – offenders will develop their nurturing needs thru caring for other people; example: with senior citizens, with orphanages, or with street children.
- Economic Development – to link directly with the business project; examples: cleaning downtown area, tree planting, maintenance of business zones, housing restoration, garbage and waste management, cleaning of esteros, recycling, construction, repair of streets, and the like.
- Citizenship and Civic participation-experiential activities which involve solving community problems; examples: puppet shows that showcase values, street dramas, peer counseling.
- Helping the Disadvantaged – this will enhance offender’s self esteem; examples: assist handicapped, assist in soup kitchen, tutor peers, visit the aged in jail and hospitals.
- Crime Prevention Project – examples: Brgy. Ronda, giving testimony to the youth.
The probation and parole officer should ensure the adoption of these community work services to facilitate the reintegration of the offender in the community.
C. Counseling (whether individual, group or family)
It will enhance client’s interpersonal relationship and it will help him/her become more aware of his/her shortcomings/weaknesses. This will also help him/her overcome painful experiences that drove him/her to commit a crime/ offense.
D. Attendance to trainings, seminars and lectures
E. Participation in education, vocation or life skills program
F. Group Therapy Session
An intervention which provides recovering drug dependents or those with serious behavioral problems an opportunity to discuss their problems.
G. Spiritual development session/faith-based session
H. Submission to psychological/psychiatric assessment
I . Submission to drug test/drug dependency examination
J. Attendance to skills training/livelihood assistance program
K. Marital enhancement program
L. Written or oral apology
M. Submission to family therapy session
This session aims to develop healthy personal relationship within the family and to establish open positive communication between family members and significant others. Family members should be oriented in their individual responsibilities and roles.
N. Confinement in Drug Treatment Rehabilitation Center Including Aftercre