A special and just visit to Brazil
J.J. Beauchamp is presenting local restorative justice model to South American country
Tuesday, Nov 18, 2014 06:00 am
J.J. Beauchamp is travelling to Brazil to offer the South American country alternative strategies to overcome social problems.
Beauchamp, the vice chair and program coordinator for Innisfail’s Restorative Justice Society, is representing Canada for a series of presentations to governmental and municipal organizations.
“We have been working on this for a couple of years,” said Beauchamp, who will be travelling with Mary Hicks, who will also be doing presentations to Brazilian agencies. “It was only recently that we found out that we had been picked, and were to leave on November 3. It is an honour to be selected to represent Canada, and most importantly, a recognition of the success of our local program.”
The pair of Innisfailians will be meeting with the mayors of Sao Paolo and Porto Alegre, Canadian Consulate officials, the chief justice of Brazil, about 200 Brazilian judges, and special interest groups that are seeking restorative justice solutions to social problems. They will also be visiting several prisons during their stay in Brazil, which will last until Nov. 14.
“This is an amazing opportunity to discuss our strategy in dealing with individuals who want to find a solution outside of the justice system,” said Beauchamp. “We will be able to discuss the legal framework of our strategy, the importance of having a partnership with the provincial and federal justice departments, the necessity of having dedicated volunteers, and the value of having a good relationship with our local RCMP detachment.”
He added the Innisfail program would not work without the support it receives from community stakeholders, along with the cooperation from the community at large.
In addition to the seven presentations Beauchamp is delivering, Hicks will be speaking on family violence at three venues, which may include women’s prisons in the South American country.
“Having worked in the justice system, I am familiar with the Canadian model and will have the opportunity to see how Brazil handles prisoners,” said Beauchamp. “Who knows how this visit will influence restorative justice options in Brazil, but we are hard at work to organize a return visit by Brazilian officials for next year.”
Beauchamp added the Canadian Consulate is paying for the trip and he is keenly aware their Canadian profile will benefit by this honour.
“The visit will open doors for our local society, but more importantly, create a collaboration between Canada and Brazil,” said the coordinator. “When we return we will be going to Banff for a three-day Canada-wide conference on restorative justice, then getting ready for our annual banquet on November 19 in Innisfail.”
The future of Innisfail Restorative Justice Society funding was secured for at least three years after the provincial justice and solicitor-general’s office awarded the local group $20,000 per year in funding.
Beauchamp noted restorative justice is a system in which the offenders go to a forum with the victims and members of the community to learn the impact of their crimes and to establish a community-based solution.
“From our experience to date, we have found that using a restorative justice model gives the offender a chance to redeem him or herself without a criminal record,” added Beauchamp. “If the offender is young, a record can hamper their future forever.”
The local group, in existence since 1996, also serves the communities of Bowden, Spruce View and Didsbury upon request for training and intervention.
For more information about the Innisfail Restorative Justice Society contact Beauchamp at 403-227-4156 or by email at email@example.com