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Report of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba

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Introduction to Section Three

Community and Restorative Justice

The Aboriginal Justice Inquiry mapped out a detailed set of reforms to the Manitoba justice system. Many of these reforms were intended as transitional steps to the establishment of an Aboriginal justice system, while others were intended to address issues that would arise in those communities where Aboriginal justice systems would have no jurisdiction. The following five chapters review these recommendations and provide a strategy for implementation.

The strategy proposed by the AJIC is based on the principles of community justice. This is a community-based, restorative justice model. It views crime as an attack on the victim and as a disruption of community balance. It seeks to mend the harm done to the victim and the community. There is no single community justice program or set of policies that can be simply introduced into a community—by definition, different communities fashion their own approaches. It involves new approaches to how one defines a crime, the role of a police force and its relationship to a community, the role of the courts, the types of sanctions that are employed, the justice system's recruiting policies, and the system's obligations to the victims of crime. Most importantly, it envisions a much bolder and comprehensive role for the community in the ongoing operation of the justice system. One measure of progress towards a community justice system is the degree to which the measures taken reduce the involvement of the criminal justice system in the lives of individuals and communities, and increase community involvement in finding solutions for crime.

Where the current system is centralized, isolated, and focussed on criminals, a community justice approach is rooted in neighbourhoods, requires collaboration among citizens, and is attuned to the situation of the victims and the community at large. The issues that the criminal justice system addresses are serious, complex, and persistent. The AJIC recognizes that community justice approaches will not cause these problems to disappear. While community and restorative justice approaches take a less punitive approach to the administration of justice, they must retain a strong appreciation of how crime affects victims and communities. A process that seeks to restore community balance cannot place victims at greater risk.

Such a system will not be brought into existence quickly. However, the proposals in the following section are based on both the AJI recommendations, and on the AJIC's understanding of the wishes of the Aboriginal community and the government's commitment to implementing the AJI.

The Commission gives priority to measures that:

  • reduce the use of incarceration and encourage correctional program service delivery in communities

  • use alternative or conditional sentences for as many offenders as possible

  • encourage support and confidence in the system, through more Aboriginal-controlled service delivery such as police and probation services, more employment of Aboriginal people at all levels, and greater understanding of the impact of the system on Aboriginal people through cross-cultural and other training

  • provide adequately resourced treatment programs for offenders and others

  • provide community policing rooted in genuine partnership among police officers, police departments, governments, and the community

  • assist more community involvement, where communities want and have the capacity to assume and maintain justice roles, and provide adequate resources for these communities to discharge their duties


Table of Contents
Executive Summary
Section 1 - The Aboriginal Justice Inquiry: background and key issues
Section 2 - Aboriginal Rights and Aboriginal Relations
» Section 3 - Community and Restorative Justice «
Section 4 - Crime Prevention through Community Development
Section 5 - Concluding Thoughts

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