Annegrete Johanson, a service manager in Victim Support in Estonia, presented an overview of the development of Restorative Justice (RJ) in the country over the past few years. With a background in social work, social pedagogy, and child care, Johanson has over 14 years of experience working with at-risk youth in various capacities, including lecturing at the university level.
One of Johanson’s main responsibilities is to train RJ volunteers. During her presentation, she highlighted the progress made in this area, emphasizing the importance of having a strong network of volunteers to support the implementation of RJ practices. These volunteers play a crucial role in facilitating restorative processes and mediation between victims and offenders.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic presented both challenges and opportunities for the development of restorative justice in Estonia. Johanson explained that the restrictions imposed during the pandemic led to the exploration of virtual platforms for restorative discussion-circles. This allowed for continued engagement with RJ practices and provided an opportunity to think outside the box in terms of how these processes can be conducted.
As restrictions eased, Johanson and her team were able to organize restorative discussion-circles in real life, providing a space for individuals to share their experiences and stories. These sessions offered a platform for participants to reflect on their involvement in RJ and its impact on their lives
Throughout her presentation, Johanson emphasized the importance of offender rehabilitation and social justice in the context of RJ. By giving a voice to both victims and offenders, RJ aims to repair harm, promote accountability, and foster understanding within communities.
In conclusion, Annegrete Johanson’s presentation shed light on the progress made in developing RJ in Estonia. Through the establishment of a volunteer network and the adaptation of restorative processes during the COVID-19 pandemic, Estonia has taken significant steps towards implementing RJ practices. By prioritizing offender rehabilitation and social justice, Johanson and her team are working towards a more inclusive and restorative justice system in the country.