More help will be going towards making sure criminals in Nanaimo don’t cause harm again.

The Nanaimo Region John Howard Society’s “Restorative Justice” program will be receiving $17,409 from the BC Government’s Crime Prevention and Remediation Program Grant.

The program will be spending the money on ensuring staff are well educated and able to provide all the services necessary for continued support, and to expand the program virtually.

Beth Stupple, a restorative justice practitioner for the society, says that there’s also a new housing complex on the way for the society.

“We’re very excited about the construction of a housing complex going underway. We just received a new executive director who is former Nanaimo social planner, John Horn. There’s a lot going on for the organization.”

The new complex’s completion date is currently unknown, but it will help to house around fifty clients when it is complete. 

Stupple says that it’s important to focus on the mental health of people who’ve caused harm in order to get to the root of the problem.

“In comparison criminal justice would ask a question; ‘What law was broken, what punishment is appropriate’. Restorative justice we’re [asking] ‘what happened and why’. What needs have arisen from harm, and whose responsibility is it to meet those needs? How do we prevent further harm?”

She says the program also teaches empathy towards victims, and makes sure they have a voice in the process.

Most clients are referred to the society by the RCMP, but they take other referrals as well. Clients are given access to mental health programs as well as educational programs.

“It’s not an easy way out,” says Stupple, “it takes a lot of courage, accountability, and vulnerability, but the outcome can look like repairing relationships and, ideally, healing.”

The program has been around in Nanaimo for around 23 years, and has helped over 5000 people.