Source: (2009) Plenary presentation at the 12th World Conference of the International Institute for Restorative Practices. Bethlehem, PA.21-23 October 2009.

For those of you who may not know, Nova Scotia is located on the east coast of Canada. It is a small province with a population of approximately one million people. Nova Scotia is known for its seafood, Celtic music (fiddling and bagpipes abound) and the hospitality of its people — but I want to suggest to you that it should also be known for its restorative justice program, which is the most developed and comprehensive program in Canada and among the leaders in the world. The Nova Scotia Restorative Justice (NSRJ) program was conceived in 1997. It began as a pilot program in 1999 in four communities and by November 2001 extended to the whole province. Now an established program for over eight years, it receives about $1.5 million in funding under the annual budget of the province’s department of justice. The currently funded program is oriented to 12- to 17-year-old youth in conflict with the law and those they have harmed. From the outset, the program has espoused the aim of becoming a comprehensive alternative to the mainstream punitive and/or rehabilitative criminal justice system for both youth and adult offenders. It was intended to be rolled out in four phases: pilot youth application, full youth application, pilot adult application, and, finally, full application to adults. The program has realized its first two goals and as I will elaborate in a moment, is moving toward the next phase. The NSRJ program is committed in principle to goals which embody a broadly conceived restorative theory of justice1 with potentially far-reaching implications not only for wrongdoers, victims and their families, but also for communities.

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