Daniel became involved with the Project after he was charged with 16 counts involving a number of Break and Enters, Possession of Property Under, Theft Under, Possession/Use of Credit Card, Loiter at Night on Other Person's Property and Fail to Comply! Daniel a long history of being involved in this kind of thing so upon arrest he was sent to a closed custody facility prior to sentencing.
The Crown's initial position was for 10 months closed custody, followed by two months open custody, followed by Probation. All of this would be on top of any time already served.
The caseworker met with Daniel and began the process of exploring the causes and consequences of his behaviour. Daniel seemed to take responsibility and was remorseful. Apparently all of the charges stemmed from one evening when he became very intoxicated at a school dance. On his way home from the dance he decided to break into some houses. Being very drunk, it didn't take long for the police to catch up with him, still with the property on his person.
The victims in the case were contacted by the caseworker and then met with each of them to discuss the impact this event has had on their lives. Two asked for a letter of apology from Daniel.
Another victim asked to relay messages to Daniel. She wanted to tell Daniel that it was her little girl's property that was stolen: her CD's and her birthday money. Consequently, the little girl felt personally targeted and was very afraid even in her own home. Daniel was very surprised by this story and was deeply affected as he hadn't anticipated that his actions would harm a child. Daniel wished to do something for the little girl to show her that he hadn't meant to harm her. Unfortunately the family chose not to participate any further in the Project, fearing further retaliation from him.
Another victim talked about having seen Daniel in the upstairs hallway of his home and in the darkness thought that Daniel was an adult. His family has been very frightened ever since. It was explained that Daniel was 15 years old at the time and very intoxicated. Although this victim chose not to participate any further, he felt much better understanding the actual circumstances of the break-in. Although the fact remained that his family home had been broken into, knowing that it was a young boy, who was remorseful, as opposed to an adult helped him to cope better with the crime.
Daniel wrote his two letters of apology. They were well written and thoughtful. Daniel had been able to put himself in the position of the victims and understand what the impact of his actions had been.
The letter to one victim was relayed and he was very touched by its' content. He felt that Daniel showed promise in the literary arts and showed real insight into his own behaviour. He asked that Daniel be told that the victim feels better now and to wish Daniel well in the future. These messages were relayed to Daniel; he was very pleased and very surprised that someone he had harmed would actually wish him well.
The second letter was relayed. This victim was very moved by the letter and began to develop an almost parental concern for Daniel and his future. She asked permission to respond to Daniel's letter with a letter of her own. Permission was granted and she wrote the letter.
Although this case did not involve a meeting between Daniel and the victims, and there was no resolution agreement, we feel that it was extremely helpful to all the parties. The victims, because they received information and support that helped them to cope with what had happened, and because they were able to ask for what they needed.
Daniel learned about the harm that his actions had caused, in a way that allowed the victims to become 'real' for him. Daniel also learned that although he had done something terrible, he could repair the harm to some extent. As a result, he unexpectedly received good wishes from a number of people he had harmed.
Daniel stayed in custody until his next court date, 5 months later, when he entered guilty pleas to Break and Enter X2, Possession of Credit Cards, Theft Under, and a Breach. He was sentenced to time served (136 days), two months of Open Custody followed by probation.
*Please note that identifying details and names have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants.