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Youth Justice Committee Program

Youth Justice Committee Program

YOUTH JUSTICE COMMITTEE MANDATE

An alternative approach outside the traditional court system which aims to repair the harm done by a young person to those who have been harmed. Committee members play an essential part in restoring relationships between persons harmed, the young person and the community.

What is a Youth Justice Committee:

  • Alternative to formal court proceedings under the Youth Criminal Justice Act
  • Utilizes trained volunteer members of the community to facilitate victim offender conferences
  • Aim is to bring together the young offender, their parents, the victims and their supports

The Youth Justice Committee provides an opportunity at their conference for the young person to take responsibility for their actions by making amends, as well for the victims to play a role in the process. The Coordinator will reiterate the expectations of all attendees and that it is essential the environment be safe and respectful for all.

The goals of the Youth Justice Committee meeting are:

  • To understand the motivation behind the offending act by discussing the impact the behaviour had on the victim and the community

Restoring Harm

The main objective of the Youth Justice Committee is to address and restore the harm done to individuals and the community by the actions of the young person. The program and the committee work to have the youth understand this harm done, and how their actions impacted others. For this reason, the persons harmed or the victims will be invited to participate in the committee meeting to meet with the offending youth.

At the committee hearing, everyone involved –the youth, the persons harmed, community members and other supports –will have the opportunity to express their thoughts and concerns regarding the offence. After this hearing, Youth Justice Committee members will determine the measures or sanctions to be done by the youth. An agreement for this plan is created and a contract is signed by youth, their parent or guardian, and representatives of the committee.

Possible Measures or Sanction may include:

  • Apology in person or in writing to the victim
  • Victim sensitivity training
  • Restitution or compensation
  • Educational or reflective essay
  • Community service
  • Participation in an educational workshop (eg. victim empathy, cyberbullying, sexting, etc)
  • Referral to cognitive skills program (eg Rebound, TAPP-C, etc)
  • Connection with a community agency for specific and related support (eg. employment, substance use, recreation programs, etc.)
  • Advocacy and support (mentoring, counseling, etc)
  • Others as determined by the committee

It is essential that the Youth Justice Committee hearing provides a voice for the victim to express how the youth’s actions have affected them. This becomes an opportunity for the youth to better understand how their actions have impacted and harmed others and their community. For the community or committee members, this is their opportunity to become directly involved in the administration of youth justice.

TEAM CONTACTS

Gillian Geneja, Youth Justice Coordinator
ggeneja@youthdiversion.org
613 548 4535 x. 230

Mel Urquhart, Youth Justice Case Worker
murquhart@youthdiversion.org
613 548 4535 x. 235

Full Program Details

Objectives of the Committee

The Committee endeavours to:

  1. encourage young people to accept responsibility for their actions by helping them to examine what they have done about their offence and what it is now fair for them to do;
  2. provide an informal, non-threatening and non-stigmatizing forum which brings together the offender(s), parents, the victim, community volunteers, and the police, in order to negotiate an appropriate response to the offence;
  3. reduce the number of young people having a youth court record by providing a community-based alternative to a youth court proceeding;
  4. generate in young people a sense of having been dealt with fairly (i.e. a sense of justice) by communicating a true respect for them and a belief that they can participate in the resolution of their problems; and
  5. effectively discourage repeated offences.

Composition of the Committee

  1. The Committee is selected from a panel of volunteers from the community who are interested in working with young people and who support the Program philosophy outlined above. The aim is to include a spectrum of persons on the Committee so as to reflect the diverse composition of the community, as well as to better serve the interests of the young person.
  2. At least two Committee members must be present before a meeting commences. If circumstances require it, the Program Director may act as a Committee member.
  3. When a review is set, the original Committee members should be present for the review, if possible.
  4. New members may be added to the Committee, subject to the approval of the Program Director of the Youth Diversion Program.
  5. A chairperson will be selected at each Committee meeting by the members present.

Jurisdiction of the Committee

  1. The Committee has jurisdiction only if all of the following criteria are met:
    1. The offence cannot generally be those included as a class III offense.
    2. The young person is prepared to accept responsibility for his/her involvement in the offence or admit to his/her participation or involvement in the offence.
    3. The young person consents to meet with the committee. In keeping with the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the young person’s decision to participate must be voluntary and not the result of coercion by any person.
  2. A young person is referred to the Committee by the Crown Attorney or the Police. The Crown or Police applies the first two criteria. The third and fourth criteria can only be met after the young person has obtained legal advice.
  3. If any one of the criteria is not met, then the young person will proceed through the normal court process.

The Committee Hearing

  1. The Committee hearing involves a consideration of the offence, certain factors directly related to the offence, and possible responses by the Committee.
  2. The Committee is not concerned with determining guilt or innocence. However, it is necessary for the Committee to ensure that the young person is actually accepting at least partial responsibility for, or involvement in the offence. The young person will normally be expected to describe the circumstances of the offence.
  3. Persons Heard: The Committee will encourage the following persons to express their views:
    1. Young person, parents/guardian/friend, young person’s lawyer, victim, police, and other interested persons who have appeared before the Committee. The emphasis is normally on hearing from the young person.
    2. Parents are not allowed to speak to the Committee alone because of the rule that the young person must be present during the reception of any information. After the plan has been developed, the parents may be encouraged to contact the Program Administrator outside of the hearing setting regarding other problems which they might want to discuss in the absence of the young person; e.g. a parent’s drug, alcohol, or marital problems.

Youth Justice Committee Volunteer Training and Recruitment

Youth Justice Committee Member training generally occurs on an annual basis. Two or more training sessions are held to ensure full knowledge and understanding of the guidelines. Once the training sessions are complete, new members sit through one or two actual meetings as observers in order to get a feel for the flow of the meetings. Once this is complete, the new members are scheduled in as full members. Compulsory refresher training is held annually.  New volunteers are recruited as required, please see our volunteer opportunities section to see about current availabilities.

Observers:

Observers may be present at any Committee meeting if there is no objection from the young person, his/her family or the victim. No more than 2 observers may be present at any one meeting. The observer(s) are not permitted to participate in the meeting.