Ministerial Statement – Adult Diversion Introduced into Court Process Following Justice Summits
March 11, 2019
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand here today to announce a program that uses the principles of restorative justice to give offenders an alternative to the traditional court process. The need for this type of program was identified by participants of justice summits held across the province over the last two years.
These forums brought together key players of the criminal justice system including representatives from every level of court, federal and provincial corrections, police, representatives across all divisions of the Department of Justice and Public Safety, members of the legal community, Indigenous groups and community organizations, who identified issues and suggested possible solutions for improvement. One of the top issues identified was the lack of alternatives, which will be addressed by the introduction of an adult diversion program.
Mr. Speaker, the goal of the program is to provide an effective and timely response to the offender’s behaviour, encourage offenders to acknowledge and repair harm caused to the victim, and provide an opportunity for the victim to participate in the process. Alternative measures could include counselling, a letter of apology, community service or even a charitable donation. The program has seen success in multiple jurisdictions and is being piloted in this province through Provincial Courts in Stephenville and Corner Brook.
In addition to adult diversion, the department is working on other actions to address issues identified at the justice summits, which can be found in the action plan posted to the department’s website.
Mr. Speaker, we recognize there is still work to be done but I am proud of the initiatives that have been undertaken to improve and enhance the justice system in this province.