Author: Rogalsky, Dave
Date published: April 16, 2012
The list of sponsors for the latest presentation of Tough Case, a play about restorative justice commissioned by Jennifer Llewellyn, a law professor at Dalhousie (N.S.) University in 2009, included Correctional Services Canada. Some might consider this ironic, considering the play was presented at Conrad Grebel University College the same week that the Conservative government pushed through its omnibus crime bill, which moves away from restoration towards punishment, according to news reports.
Tough Case describes the transformational process experienced by Dane Timberell, a young offender, his mother Marjorie, and the victims Tom Ross and his mother Grace.
Grace is afraid to return to her home after it was broken into and vandalized. Through a restorative justice process overseen by Nessa MacCallum, self-described as "addicted to making a difference," Grace is freed from her fear and Dane learns a trade. The play delves into the psychological make-up of Dane, describing how he came to be involved in crime.
During a question-and-answer period that followed the presentation on March 14 at Grebel, a volunteer at Community Justice Initiatives (CJI), Kitchener, that helped sponsor the play, explained that the significant transformations that happen in the play are normal for the processes in which he has been involved. He called restorative justice a "magical, mystical" process.
Chris Cowie, CJIs executive director, explained that the organization successfully processes more than 100 cases per year on a budget of $80,000, less than it costs to keep one inmate in prison for a year. He also noted that, while 90 percent of victim participants do not expect a successful or satisfactory outcome, 90 percent report being satisfied afterwards.
During its local run of educational institutions and churches in March, Tough Case played at the Grand Valley Institute, a women's prison in Kitchener.
STORY AND PHOTO BY DAVE ROGALSKY
Eastern Canada Correspondent