WHAT IS THE YOUTH JUSTICE COMMITTEE?

What are the Extrajudicial Sanctions and Measures Programs?
What is our Authority?
Who are we?
What do we do?
Our Objectives
How successful is the Youth Justice Program?


WHAT ARE THE EXTRAJUDICIAL SANCTIONS & MEASURES PROGRAMS?

  1. An alternative for young offenders between the ages of 12 and 18, who accept responsibility for the actions for which they have been charged.
  2. They provide an effective and timely response to offending behaviour without having to go through the formality of the court system.
  3. They encourage youth to acknowledge and repair the harm and negative implications caused to the victims and the community.
  4. They encourage families of affected youth, and the community to become actively involved in the design and implementation of sanctions.
  5. They provide opportunities for victims to be involved, and in some cases to receive restitution.
  6. They respect the rights and freedoms of youth, and design measures (sanctions) proportionate to the seriousness and circumstances of the offence.
WHAT IS OUR AUTHORITY?

Youth Justice Committees in Alberta were established in 1993 under Section 69 of The Young Offenders Act. In February 2002 jurisdiction changed to Section 18 of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. We receive our authority, therefore from legislation, the Attorney General, and the Lieutenant in Council. There are almost 150 Youth Justice Committees in Alberta.

WHO ARE WE?

We are a non-profit organization, comprised of volunteers, dedicated to working in partnership with youth justice personnel, in helping first or second time young offenders lead constructive and responsible lives within the community. The Red Deer Youth Justice Committee was formed in 1994.

Members are drawn from all walks of life, and bring a wide variety of life experiences to the committee. By policy, all members in this Committee are over the age of 18 years. We are approximately twenty in number at present, but can always use more.

WHAT DO WE DO?

We have a Panel Coordinator who is responsible for receiving all referrals, setting up panels and panel hearings, and contacting all affected parties.

Panel hearing are usually comprised of three members, but sometimes two.

Hearings are normally held at the Provincial Building in Red Deer (Room 111 on the ground floor), and last approximately one hour. They are usually scheduled to start between 4:30 – 6:00 pm Monday through Thursday.

The panel hears input from all who have anything to contribute, but particularly the young offender. They will ask questions for the purpose of clarity and understanding. The young offender has the right to be represented by others, but this is extremely rare.

After all information has been received, the panel will ask everyone to leave, while they discuss consequences, known as sanctions. This usually takes only a few minutes.

The hearing is re-convened, and the sanctions presented to the young offender verbally, and in writing. As this is a legal document. The young offender is urged to read it carefully before signing.

If the young offender agrees to the sanctions, he or she signs it, and receives a copy. A follow up person from the panel is also designated to oversee the completion of the sanctions. The time period to complete sanctions is usually 90 (ninety) days or less.

If all sanctions are competed satisfactorily, on time, the supervisor signs off the case as ‘satisfactory,’ and returns the file to it originator. This usually closes the case, which cannot be re-opened in the future.

If the young offender does not agree to the sanctions proposed, or if the agreed upon sanctions are not completed to the satisfaction of the supervisor within the specified time period, the file may by marked ‘unsatisfactory,’ and returned to its source. This closes the matter for the panel, but a decision will then be made by the originator to determine what further action, if any, should be taken.

OUR OBJECTIVES

  1. To operate as an alternative to the formal court system, by operating as an alternative measures program.
  2. To demonstrate a concern for the victim, and the effect on the community, and take these into consideration when determining appropriate sanctions.
  3. To provide community support to the offender, with a view to assisting him or her to leading a more positive life in the community.
  4. To provide young offenders with opportunities to take responsibility for their actions.
  5. To impose meaningful and relevant sanctions on young offenders that assist them in making restitution through service orders and/or fine options.
  6. To provide young offenders with a “second chance.”
  7. To reduce the overuse of Youth Court for less serious offences, where it is deemed that the young offender is less likely to re-offend.
  8. It is expected that strict confidentiality be maintained at all times.
HOW SUCCESSFUL IS THE YOUTH JUSTICE PROGRAM?

We consider the program to be a highly effective intervention program with lifelong benefits to all its participants. As such, we believe we perform a valuable service to our community. Approximately 90 percent of the young offenders whose cases are heard, complete the program successfully. Of those, a similar percentage remain trouble free, and do not re-offend within two years.