Ottawa graffiti crime victims want hate rehab for alleged teen offender

The alleged wrongdoer has been caught and faces 20 charges linked to the six separate incidents.
The alleged wrongdoer has been caught and faces 20 charges linked to the six separate incidents. (Photo: Facebook/Anna Maranta)

We recently reported about the wave of hate attacks that has hit Canada after Donald Trump was elected as the next president of the United States. Ottawa, Ont. saw the worst of these hate attacks as several synagogues, a mosque and a church were defaced with anti-Semitic, racist and Islamophobic graffiti.

The alleged wrongdoer has now been caught and faces 20 charges linked to the six separate incidents, which included painting racial slurs and swastikas on the buildings. These charges could culminate in a 10-year maximum prison sentence for the teenager for mischief relating to religious property.

However, the religious leaders who are dealing with the fallout of the hate crimes don’t want to see him in jail but rather rehabilitated from hatred.

Such rehabilitation could be achieved through a concept called restorative justice, which is an alternative to traditional criminal sentencing and focuses on repairing the harm caused by the crime rather than punishing the perpetrator.

Indeed, if their wishes are granted, the teen could avoid a long prison sentence through the Collaborative Justice Program, which is a restorative justice program offered in Ottawa. Other cities and the province of Nova Scotia offer similar programs as well.

The program works by having a caseworker assess the teen, and see whether he is taking responsibility for his actions and willing to repair the harm he caused. Both the victim(s) and the offender have to agree to be part of the program.

Then the caseworker would try to arrange a meeting between the religious leaders and the offender, which would probably be in format of a circle conference. Often present at that meeting are people who support the victim(s) and perpetrator, as well as facilitators and community members.

The teen and the leaders can also talk to each other by other means such as letters or videotaped interviews. The process encourages the offender to look at the causes for his or her behaviour, and for the victim(s) to get answers and support.

They would then work towards a resolution agreement, which is a document that requires the offender to do reparation for his or her crimes, including: financial compensation, community work, counselling and/or a verbal/written apology. The agreement is then forwarded to the court for sentencing consideration.

Let’s hope that if the teen gets into the program, he will be able to see the error of his ways.

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