Elliott argues the process is much, much cheaper than jail, to say nothing of the costs of prosecuting them.

His way, he says, offers the potential for psychological healing to victims like a security guard he knows who is still afraid to go out at night.

"The court system isn't going to do anything for him," he says.

He says the approach would also work for a woman who stole a bottle of perfume.

"We're not just do-gooders. We believe people can be healed."

At the core of his efforts to change society's approach is the belief that young lives could be needlessly ruined.

"I would hate to see a young person's life interrupted because they got involved in a melee after a hockey game," he says.

He agrees that the worst cases, such as those where violence was committed, need to be prosecuted.

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