Restorative Justice but not as we know it

Written 20th April 2016 by Olliers Solicitors

Last year in Coronation Street the storyline of Gail meeting with the man who burgled her house (Michael) is most people’s experience of Restorative Justice (RJ).

Restorative Justice

It is  intended to allow victims to communicate with offenders,  to explain the real impact of their crimes, allowing the offender to understand the consequences of their actions and empowering the victim by giving them a voice. Gail went on to marry Michael although I doubt this level of engagement was envisaged by the RJ movement.

Johnny Depp YouTube Apology

As far fetched as this story line is, the news this week of Johnny Depp and his wife, smuggling their Yorkshire terriers into Australia and their very public apology is proof that fact is indeed stranger than fiction. The ‘war on terrier’ is how the Australian press has dubbed it.

Initially charged with offences carrying maximum 10 years imprisonment for breach of bio- security laws, both  Depp and his wife Herd agreed to record a message of contrition, stressing the importance of Australia’s strict quarantine laws and how these laws are in place to keep Australia unique.

Who would have thought that the voice given to Australia (the victim) was that of  Jack Sparrow, the swashbuckling, anarchic pirate with no respect for authority. This is an irony that those who first mooted restorative justice would scarcely have envisaged. That being said, despite a deluge of sarcastic and sardonic comments on social media about Depp’s acting and motivation…it actually works.

The bio security laws are there for good reason, to protect the unique identity of the country. Other countries have similar laws to protect their own identity and this form of restorative justice brings that home to all of us as opposed to any ‘punishment’ Depp and his wife may have received at the hands of the Australian justice system.

I suspect a YouTube apology would not be offered or considered if I tried to sneak a dog into Australia. Will certainly make me think twice.

Olliers Solicitors – Specialist Criminal Defence

Written by Max Saffman. Max is a Higher Court Advocate and specialises in the defence of serious crime. He has over 20 years experience as a criminal defence lawyer and has dealt with the full spectrum of criminal offences.

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