Play teaches community about restorative justice

Jodi
Jodi Schellenberg
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A play, being hosted at Gateway Covenant Church on May 24, will teach people about restorative justice.

Theatre on the Beat, an Ontario-based group will put on the play, called Forgiven/Forgotten, in conjunction with the Mennonite Central Committee.

“It is a play that deals with an inmate who is coming out of jail and the community is in turmoil because of it,” said Ryan Siemens, reverend at Grace Mennonite Church. “It asks questions on how can we best deal or integrate an inmate in the healthiest way.”

Siemens is the chair of two restorative justice committees -- Person to Person and Circles of Support and Accountability. Person to Person is a prison visitation program the Mennonite Church has been involved with for 38 years and Circles of Support works with high-risk offenders who have been released back into society.

“We find that these ex-inmates when they have a group that holds them accountable -- a community around them -- most of them do not recommit,” Siemens said.

Restorative justice, Siemens explained, is different from retributive justice.

“The premise of restorative justice is the idea that when a crime is committed the relationship of the community has been offended against and it seeks to restore what has been taken away,” Siemens said. “It focuses more on relationship than it does on criminality and law.”

 He said restorative justice is an important subject for people to learn more about.

“(It is) especially for Prince Albert being a prison town and the fact that a lot of released guys do stay here, are there better ways we can integrate them into society,” Siemens said.

He hopes the play will help raise questions and help eliminate some of the prejudice communities have against former inmates since 95 per cent of all inmates are eventually released from prison.

“I haven’t actually seen the play, but some of the questions we can maybe talk about after are to dispel some of the fear that motivates our reaction and action towards inmates,” Siemens said. “Most criminals we have dealt with have been victims at some point so they don’t know how to create a healthy community. Most people who are on the straight and narrow have some form of healthy community so by creating healthy community our hope is that these guys do not reoffend, which creates less victims.”

There is no set charge for tickets, Siemens said. They will be available at the door by donation.

Organizations: Gateway Covenant Church, Mennonite Central Committee, Grace Mennonite Church Prince Albert

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  • russ kelly
    May 13, 2014 - 11:31

    Hi, I sure is good to see and hear that restorative justice is alive and well! I congratulate you in promoting the value and principles of restorative justice, forgiveness, reparation, and healing. My name is Russ Kelly and I am one of the offenders involved in The Elmira Case 1974. I have been involved promoting restorative justice and sharing my story for the past 12 years, ever since I became aware that my involvement and a willingness to meet my victims turned into a global movement that has helped countless victims experience closure and healing from meeting the offender. I have also learned a great deal more about forgiveness. My speaking engagements have taken me into schools, churches, community groups, conferences, prisons, youth groups of whom are usually in conflict with the law, and so on. Again, I salute you for your efforts and caring for the common good in this world. thank you, Russ Kelly (offender in the in the Elmira Case 1974) author: From Scoundrel To Scholar... The Russ Kelly Story

  • russ kelly
    May 13, 2014 - 11:28

    Hi, I sure is good to see and hear that restorative justice is alive and well! I congratulate you in promoting the value and principles of restorative justice, forgiveness, reparation, and healing. My name is Russ Kelly and I am one of the offenders involved in The Elmira Case 1974. I have been involved promoting restorative justice and sharing my story for the past 12 years, ever since I became aware that my involvement and a willingness to meet my victims turned into a global movement that has helped countless victims experience closure and healing from meeting the offender. I have also learned a great deal more about forgiveness. My speaking engagements have taken me into schools, churches, community groups, conferences, prisons, youth groups of whom are usually in conflict with the law, and so on. Again, I salute you for your efforts and caring for the common good in this world. thank you, Russ Kelly (offender in the in the Elmira Case 1974) author: From Scoundrel To Scholar... The Russ Kelly Story