Prior to entering the Restorative Justice process the young person must meet all seven eligibility criteria:

  • 1. The individual’s referral must be consistent with the protection of society.
  • 2. The referral is appropriate with regard to the interests of the offender, victim and community.
  • 3. The individual accepts responsibility for his/her actions.
  • 4. The offender has to be informed of, and consents freely and fully, to participation in the Program.
  • 5. The offender has been advised of his/her right to counsel without delay and is given a reasonable opportunity to retain and instruct counsel.
  • 6. There is sufficient evidence to proceed with the prosecution of the offense.
  • 7. Prosecution of the offense is not barred by law.


NOTE: Nova Scotia currently has a moratorium on restorative justice for offences of a sexual nature and for domestic/intimate partner violence offences. These types of offences are not eligible for referral to the Restorative Justice Program. 

Referral to Restorative Justice

Youth (12-17 years old) and Adults (18 and over) who have committed a crime can be referred to the Community Justice Society by four entry points in the judicial system:

Police Entry Point (pre-charge) - A Client can be referred by police officers from any of the following agencies: Halifax Regional Police, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canadian Military Police, and DNR. These referrals are made prior to a formal charger for offences like minor property damage or minor mischief.

Crown Entry Point (post-charge/pre-conviction) – A Client can be referred to restorative justice by Crown Attorneys after they have been charged in court, but before they are convicted. These referrals are for the majority of offences if not listed at a higher referral level. Offences can include assault, theft under $20,000, and most other Criminal Code offences.

Court Entry Point (post-conviction/pre-sentence) – A Client can be referred by Judges after they have been convicted but before they receive a formal court sentence. These referrals are for offences like robbery, manslaughter, impaired driving or aggravated assault.

Corrections Entry Point (post sentence) – A Client who has already been sentenced (and have either served or are serving) can be referred by Correctional Services or Victims’ Services staff. These referrals are for the most serious offences like murder.

In 2015-2016, CJS received 325 referrals, with an attached 921 total criminal charges.


The talking circle results in a formal contract being written with input from all participants. The contract will dictate what the young offender must do to repair the harm caused and complete the Restorative Justice Program.

A number of possible obligations can be included in a contract:

  • Community service work: The youth could complete a number of determined volunteer hours at an approved placement under supervision.
  • Person service to the person harmed: The youth can provide personal services to the person harmed. For example, shoveling snow from their walkway.
  • Community reconciliation: The youth may be required to give a formal apology or make a donation to a non-profit organization.
  • Education programs: The youth may need to attend programs aimed at helping them address underlying issues related to the offence.
  • Restitution or financial compensation: The youth might pay for damage they have caused, either with money or material contribution.
  • Assessment: The youth may need to attend counseling for an initial assessment of their behaviour related to the offence.
  • Other circumstance specific outcomes: The person harmed may ask the youth to perform other tasks.
  • No further action: The circle may determine the youth has already satisfied the objectives of the program and decide no further action is necessary.


In 2014-2015, 94% of youth referred to Community Justice Society who participated in a restorative justice conference successfully completed their Restorative Justice Agreement.