Death by Drug Overdose: A Restorative Justice Case Study
A young woman passed away after she was supplied Class A drugs. The person who supplied these drugs was convicted and sentenced to 21 months in prison. The mothers of both these individuals agreed to work with the police, as the victim's mother wished to prevent other young people from taking illegal substances, and the offender’s mother was open to discussing her son’s experience with being exploited by organised criminal groups to distribute drugs.
Restorative Solutions received the referral and following separate visits, it was established that the victim’s mother also saw the offender’s mother as a victim, despite her anger towards what her son had done. The victim’s mother was initially unaware of the struggle the offender’s mother had been having to keep her son safe from the people that were dealing drugs, the threats made towards the family and the numerous assaults her son had endured. It became apparent that it may be advantageous for both parties to meet to discuss what had happened and the impact on both families.
Lead Practitioners facilitated a face-to-face meeting. The offender’s mother spoke of what had happened 12-months prior to the victim’s death; how her son’s behaviour had changed, the use of cannabis, referrals to other organisations, calls to the police, curfews she had imposed and gangs getting her son to work for them.
The victim’s mother felt that her questions had been answered and she could clearly see the struggle the offender’s mother had been having. She assured her that she should not feel guilty and had done all she could to support her son; she was as much a victim in this as anyone else. The victim’s mother relayed the effect losing her daughter has had on her, her family and friends. It was discussed how a balance could be struck for the two parents to support each other.
The meeting lasted over three hours and was extremely emotional for all involved. Both mums felt that they could comfortably work together to bring awareness to young people about the risks of organised crime groups taking advantage of vulnerable people to distribute drugs, as well as the dangers of taking illegal substances.
Taking the time to get to know the impact of this incident on both parties, working at their pace and ensuring there was no pressure to bring them together worked really well. Both came to the natural conclusion at a similar time that they needed, and were ready for, this face-to-face meeting.
The victim’s mother is now considering continuing with Restorative Justice and initiating discussions with the two young men involved in her daughter’s death.