From Cindy Chan's article in The Epoch Times:  The 27-year-old Ottawa resident was only 12 when he started drinking and smoking. At around 15 he experimented with cocaine. “That’s what drove me to commit crimes, to steal for my drugs,” he said.

On the Easter weekend of 2003, at age 20, he was arrested for armed robbery. After a month in a detention centre, Mr. James was released to Harvest House, an Ottawa residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre that has helped thousands since it was founded in 1979.

He is still there today, but as a permanent employee. He now manages fundraising for the charitable organization, has a three-year-old daughter “who is like my world,” and is not shy to tell others about his past and how he turned his life around.

During the ten months he spent at Harvest House, Mr. James participated in the Collaborative Justice Program (CJP) that operates from the provincial courthouse in Ottawa.

CJP is a holistic approach to justice that focuses on repairing the harm done and healing the parties impacted by a crime. In the program, CJP officials facilitate communication between the parties, which can be written, videotaped, or relayed through the caseworker

“I changed my morals and my mind around being really apologetic to the people I harmed. I recognized that it wasn’t only the people I robbed but also my family that I put in jeopardy and hurt,” said Mr. James.

Launched in 1998, the project was originally a pilot to demonstrate the use of a restorative justice approach during the pre-sentencing period in cases of serious crime.

The approach aims to help victims, offenders, and their family and community—who voluntarily choose to participate—undertake a process of healing by making a “resolution agreement” that seeks to amend the harm as much as possible.

It could be a letter of apology, community service, restitution for damage done, or a condition that the offender will engage in counselling to address their behaviour’s root cause.

Read it all.