Local communities are being urged to rally behind a program that keeps individuals out of jail.
The Regional District of North Okanagan is considering a request to fund the Restorative Justice Society.
“Restorative justice is incredibly valuable to the community. This is an investment, not an expense,” said Howie Cyr, Enderby’s representative on the RDNO board.
Through restorative justice, people who have committed an offence meet with the victim to talk about what happened and what can be done to correct the situation. If possible, it is a way for the offender to remain out of jail and turn their life around.
“If we can nip a potential career criminal in the bud, it’s huge,” said Juliette Cunningham, Vernon director.
The program serves Vernon, Spallumcheen, Armstrong, Enderby, Coldstream, Lumby and five electoral areas.
However, it currently only receives $50,000 a year from the City of Vernon.
The budget for 2014 is $75,000 and the society is seeking $25,000 from RDNO, $42,000 from Vernon and the remainder would come from fundraising and other sources.
Jackie Pearase, rural Enderby director, believes there is a need for restorative justice to become a provincially funded program because of the positive financial impact it has on policing and the courts.
“How much have you saved the criminal justice system?” she said.