Newly appointed Custos of Kingston, Steadman Fuller, has pledged to work to bring peace and order to Jamaican communities by promoting Restorative and Community Justice (RCJ) practices.
“Carrying out this type of justice will cost less, it will ease the load in the formal justice system (and) it will be of invaluable assistance to the police force,” Custos Fuller told a packed audience at the Jamaica Conference Centre downtown Kingston yesterday (Feb. 25) following his installation.
The kind of intervention provided through restorative justice, he argued, could help in reducing recidivism and preventing crimes related to domestic violence, revenge and reprisals. “(These) situations would probably be avoided through attention at the community level,” he stated.
RCJ was formally adopted in Jamaica in 2007 and has at its base, some of the highest human characteristics – reconciliation, restoration, forgiveness, reformation, restitution, rehabilitation and healing. A number of communities across the island have been benefiting from the system under a Ministry of Justice pilot project, and during the recent RCJ Week observance others were added.
Justices of the Peace, Custos Fuller said, have a significant role to play in the process as it is they who will chair the community justice panels, which will be established to hear and resolve grievances brought by community members. The panels will be made up of community persons, who have been trained in restorative justice principles and processes.
He said he hoped the country will embrace the new system “with both hands” as a way to repair broken relationships and re-establish order and justice to society.
The new Custos of Kingston, who was sworn in by Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, also expressed a deep desire to see the City of Kingston restored to its former glory.
“It is not difficult to twin restorative justice with, in our case, inner city restoration; I strongly suggest we pursue it,” he proposed.
He continued: “I believe however, we need to move beyond plans and into action. One source suggests there are some 25 plans that have been generated overtime. We need to move beyond that and the time is now.”
Custos Fuller said that the restoration of Kingston should go beyond cosmetic spruce-up efforts and focus on renovation and investment.
“There are significant and quantifiable long-term benefits to be gained from inner city renewal.buoyed by a combination of effort on the part of local government, the private sector and investment-friendly incentives,” he pointed out.
“The idea that people, who live in the inner-city are non-productive and, for the most part, are relying on handouts is very, very wrong. I am proposing a model for downtown Kingston that will integrally involve those who presently live here,” he stated.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Kingston Bookshop and co-founder of the Book Industry Association of Jamaica replaces Rev. Canon Weevil Gordon, who recently retired.