After Paula’s garage was targeted twice for a burglary Paula felt as though she had been left with some emotional worries, and fears of safety. After being targeted twice she felt that the offences may be linked and after the offenders prison sentence she me be targeted for a revenge offence.
Her quality of life had been disrupted as her previous enjoyment of living in her families home had been burdened by worries that the offender may return to her property. She had no idea that there could be a way she could get some closure and heal some of her worries, until she was approached by a Remedi worker who offered the opportunity to take part in restorative justice.
At the time of the offence the offender was homeless and committing crime to “get him through the day”. He stated that he had committed lots of offences in order to survive and feed himself. He had stated to the Remedi worker he did not think about his victims whilst committing his offences and he had never even been asked to consider the effects of his actions upon his victims before now. He agreed that he would like to volunteer to take part in an indirect restorative justice process.
The victim was approached by a Remedi RJ Facilitator to explain the process of restorative justice and the benefits for victims. Initially Paula had said she had not thought about what she wanted to say to the offender and had no idea that she could ask the offender questions through a restorative justice process, Paula had expressed to the Remedi worker that she would not like to meet the offender.
The Remedi worker explained to Paula that if she had any questions she had wanted to ask the offender this could be done in the form of an indirect process, and that they could write down the questions together and ask the offender to answer them in the form of a written response. Paula had decided that this is something she would like to do.
The Remedi worker and Paula had sat and talked about the offence and how it had affected Paula and her family. The main issues which were discussed were the affects the offence had had on Paula in that she had been worried that the offender would come back to her property after his release from prison.
Paula also wanted the offender to know the direct impact his offence had had on her family as she had to cancel a family holiday as they were going away a few days later and could not go due to the offence, she wanted to know whether this was something he had ever thought of.
The offender was willing to address the questions Paula had asked. The offender wrote the following…
At the time of the offence I was homeless and on the streets and I needed money to survive as I had no money for food. I offended just to get myself through the day. I had not thought about the affect this would have on you!
I was not targeting you, I tried your garage and it was open. I did not realise this offence would have affected on your family’s holiday, I am sorry about this as it is not fair.
I am sorry about what I have done to you. This is the first time I have ever thought about the impact I have had on a victim and it does not feel good knowing the impact and it does not feel good knowing you still suffer from that offence.
I understand you may feel fearful of any repercussions when I get out. I just want you to know that would never happen. I have no issue with you or your family and I would never return. I would like if you could move forward with your life after hearing this.
The Remedi worker had taken the letter to Paula, so that they could read it together and assess how this had made her feel.
After reading the letter Paula had stated that she was shocked the offender had replied at all. She stated that she did not think he would do so, and knowing that the process of restorative justice was voluntary for both parties in itself had “made her feel better”.
Paula stated the letter did give her some reassurance to the anxiety she was having about the offender returning, and that she felt better and safer about staying in her house knowing that the offender had addressed that with her through an indirect Restorative Justice process as no one else could give her any reassurance over this anxiety except the offender.
Paula did not wish to reply to the offenders letter, however she expressed that she wanted him to know she had appreciated his response and that she was reassured by things he had addressed in her letter.
Paula also stated that she was shocked that he had never been told about the impact he had had on his victims before the restorative justice process and that this was the first time he had had to think about a victim of crime.