Recent Justice Canada Research Reports on Non-Traditional Criminal Justice Approaches

The most recent issue of the Weekly Checklist of Canadian Government Publications lists a series of research reports released by Justice Canada in recent months. The Checklist is a catalogue of publications produced by Government of Canada agencies and departments that are made available for distribution to a network of Depository Libraries in Canada and abroad.

Two of the reports caught my attention because they deal with non-traditional approaches to criminal justice. A few years ago, I had helped organize a session at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries on these topics:

  • Gladue Practices in the Provinces and Territories: “This study is intended to provide a status report on policies and practices in the provinces and territories that reflect the principles set out in the Supreme Court decision in R. v. Gladue regarding (1) specialized courts for Aboriginal accused; (2) training and awareness activities for judges, probation officers, courtworkers and duty counsel; (3) procedures for sentencing, bail and parole hearings when a case involves an Aboriginal offender; and (4) community justice programs and resources for Aboriginal offenders (…) Overall, initiatives and programs that comply with the Gladue decision were identified in all the jurisdictions that took part in the study. Specialized courts for Aboriginal persons seem to be one of the most exemplary initiatives in terms of applying the Gladue decision . In total, 19 specialized courts (whether or not they deal exclusively with cases involving Aboriginal persons) were listed in eight jurisdictions. Gladue training and awareness activities for justice system officials, including judges, are provided in roughly half of the participating jurisdictions. However, one of the participants questioned the quality of the training. Most jurisdictions stated that bail and parole decision – making processes involving Aboriginal persons are informed by Gladue type information. Community justice programs appear to exist in the majority of jurisdictions. However, one of the participants observed that inadequate information sharing, coordination, integration and communication between the various stakeholders in the justice system and the persons in charge of community justice and health programs (e.g. substance abuse and mental health treatments) may prove to be a significant obstacle to the effectiveness of these programs. Another participant pointed that the need for more effective information sharing must also be balanced with privacy and confidentiality considerations. In addition, establishing partnerships between non – governmental organizations (NGOs) and the justice system seems to be an approach that a number of jurisdictions have adopted to jointly identify solutions to the situation experienced by Aboriginal persons in the justice system. Last, legal aid programs may also play an important role in applying Gladue principles as shown by certain exemplary practices established by Legal Aid Ontario.”
  • The Path to Justice in a Court-Based Drug treatment court program: “Research has shown that people who graduate from drug treatment court programs are less likely to re-offend. However, the proportion of participants in drug treatment court programs who graduate is typically low. Only about 10% of all participants graduate from the Ottawa drug treatment court program which was the subject of this study. Clearly, the low success rate diminishes the potential impact of drug treatment court programs. Therefore, an important policy issue is why some people graduate from the program while others do not. Any measures that could increase the number of people who graduate would improve the effectiveness of drug treatment court programs. This study takes an access to justice approach in attempting to understand why some treatment court program participants successfully complete the program while others do not. “

The Justice Canada website has a substantial Reports and Publications section. There are reports going back to the late 1990s under some of the categories.

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