Source: (2005) In Elizabeth Elliott and Robert M. Gordon, eds., New Directions in Restorative Justice: Issues, Practice, Evaluation. Cullompton, UK: Willan Publishing. Pp. 175-192.
Although causing physical, financial, or psychological harm to an older adult violates Canadian law, relatively few such cases are brought to the criminal justice system, largely because abusers are family members and caregivers upon whom victims depend. The Restorative Justice Approaches to Elder Abuse Project in Waterloo, Ontario, aims to decrease the fear of older victims of abuse and increase the community’s ability to respond to abuse by providing a safe environment in which to address abuse in a fair and just manner for all concerned. In most cases, the project uses the “circle” process. After the screening, two facilitators are assigned to the case. One facilitator contacts the victim to hear his/her side of the case, and another facilitator contacts the alleged offender to hear his/her account of what has occurred. With permission of the two parties, facilitators may also contact supporters of the two parties. When the facilitators believe they have contacted and obtained perspectives from all of the appropriate parties, all are brought together. The circle process is structured so that all parties have an opportunity to express their feelings and ideas about how to resolve the case. Although accountability and remedies for harms caused have priority, circle guidelines ensure that the offender is not demeaned nor treated with disrespect, as the focus is on healing relationships. A formal evaluation of the project is planned. Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.gov.
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