Community Justice Program - Northwest Territories
Gender: Mixed (male and female)
Population served: Aboriginal/Indigenous; Adult offenders; Youth in contact with law enforcement (and/or at risk)
Topic: Hubs/situation tables
Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 2
Continuum of intervention: Primary crime prevention; Secondary crime prevention; Tertiary crime prevention
Community Justice Programs in the Northwest Territories (NWT) are managed by the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) in partnership with the Aboriginal Justice Strategy (AJS).Footnote1 Community Justice Programs are grounded in the principles of restorative justice and Indigenous legal traditions, while the services offered by each program are based on justice-related priorities and are designed to reflect the values and culture of the respective communities. The primary focus for most Community Justice Programs is the diversion of offenders from the mainstream justice system, but these programs also provide a variety of other justice-related services from prevention to reintegration.
Community Justice Programs work directly and indirectly with local justice committees within communities to develop and distribute a variety of diversion and restorative justice activities. The committees use their unique capacity, strengths, and knowledge to develop a restorative justice system relevant to the needs of their own community. Committees support community-based events and programs, and operate restorative justice diversion programs, facilitating diversions referred by the court, Crown, or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
The main goals of Community Justice Programs in the NWT are to:
- Contribute to decreasing rates of victimization, incarceration, and crime among Indigenous communities by delivering restorative justice, crime prevention, community development and healing services;
- Increase the capacity of the Indigenous communities to administer justice and support victims of crime so that they can play a meaningful role in the justice system, and to ensure access to justice for all residents, and to promote safe communities; and
- Enable Indigenous communities to play a greater role in local administration of justice, while providing timely and effective alternatives to the mainstream justice process when appropriate (e.g., crime prevention activities, community justice committees, victim support services, training and assistance).
As a part of the AJS, Community Justice Programs in the Northwest Territories operate in Indigenous communities and participants of the program vary depending on the needs of the community. Community Justice Programs and their associated Justice Committee will work with a range of clientele, including low severity case offenders and the general population.
The RCMP or Crown divert selected criminal matters (e.g., theft, mischief, alcohol/drug offenses, breaking and entering, vandalism, and minor assaults) away from the traditional court system to be dealt with by local Community Justice Programs and associated justice committees. Factors such as the seriousness of the offence, victim impact, the criminal history of the offender and their attitudes towards change are considered when deciding to request a diversion for offenders. Diversions into the Community Justice Program only occur when the offender accepts responsibility for an offence and is willing to participate in the process.
The Community Justice Programs are unique to each community setting in which it is applied. The program components include the following:
- The Community Justice Program works directly and indirectly with local Community Justice Committees including local volunteers that are interested in justice issues within their community and desire to help offenders take responsibility for their actions, while making their community a safer place;
- Justice Committees help youth and adult offenders take responsibility for their actions, while making the community a safer place to live;
- Collaboration in the delivery of local programs on crime prevention, restorative justice practices, and youth outreach work which helps benefit each community’s unique needs;
- Information exchange between communities and the Department of Justice, Community Justice and Policing staff. This sharing of information helps to gain new knowledge on programs as well as to gain special project partners and funding; and
- Additional services provided by the local justice committee includes inmate support services, attention to local community issues, career development, and healing circles.
Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:
- Organizational requirements: Collaboration among all parties involved is necessary for the success of the Community Justice Program. The support and guidance of non-governmental organizations, Community Justice Committees, the RCMP, and the local, territorial, federal and Indigenous governments are necessary for effective implementation. Coordinators collect and report program statistics to the GNWT, indicating all restorative justice activities, and community work.
- Partnerships: Each program collaborates with their local band or Indigenous government, community organizations, RCMP, local schools, and other community supports. The Department of Justice, Community Justice and Policing Division provides support to justice committees to develop and implement sustainable local restorative justice, crime prevention, community development and healing, reintegration and other program options.
- Training and technical assistance: The GNWT provides training and funding to committees. A part-time coordinator is typically hired to support multiple committee members. The GNWT’s training includes information on roles and responsibilities, crime prevention programs, and offender reintegration. The focus in 2017/18 is on facilitating effective restorative justice diversions within Community Justice Programs.
- Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
- Materials & resources: The 2016 NWT Restorative Justice Training Manual on Victim Offender Conferencing.
The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:
- Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
- Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
- SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
- Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.
Gathering Canadian Knowledge
Canadian Implementation Sites
Limited information is available on the implementation of specific Community Justice Programs in the NWT. As of 2017-2018 there are 26 active justice committees that work with Community Justice Programs in the NWT, while another three communities in the NWT have committees in development.
The Aboriginal Justice Strategy provided funding (2015-2016) to support the implementation and operation of approximately 200 Community Justice Programs across Canada.Footnote2 There are currently over 750 communities with AJS funded Community Justice Programs across Canada.
Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies
No information is available for the evaluation of the Community Justice Programs in the Northwest Territories.
Information is available for the evaluation of the Aboriginal Justice Strategy that funds the implementation of Community Justice Programs in the Northwest Territories:
- As a part of the Department of Justice Canada’s funding, two process and outcome evaluations of the Aboriginal Justice Strategy have been conducted (2010- 2011 and 2012-2016) to assess the relevance and performance of funded community-based justice programs by the Department of Justice’s Evaluation Division.
For more information, refer to the Department of Justice Canada (2011, 2016) publications.
In 2014-2015,Footnote3 the cost to implement the Community Justice Program in Canada was estimated at $2, 832 per client. Costs per participant in the Mainstream Justice System were taken as the sum of the court, which included prosecution and legal aid costs per case and totaled approximately $4, 435 per participant. Thus, Community Justice Programs provide immediate savings to the Mainstream Justice System of $1, 604 per client ($4, 435 - $2, 832).
The approximately annual cost of the Community Justice Program to the GNWT is $1,600,000.00.
Department of Justice Canada. (2017). Community-Based Justice Fund. Available from: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/fund-fina/acf-fca/ajs-sja/cf-pc/index.html
Department of Justice Canada. (2016). Evaluation of the Aboriginal Justice Strategy December 2016. Available from: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/cp-pm/eval/rep-rap/2016/ajs-sja/ajs-sja.pdf
Government of Canada. (2015). Government of Northwest Territories- Community Justice Program. Available from: https://www.canada.ca/en/news/archive/2015/03/government-northwest-territories-community-justice-program.html
Department of Justice Canada. (2011). Aboriginal Justice Strategy Evaluation- November 2011. Available from: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/cp-pm/eval/rep-rap/11/ajs-sja/ajs-sja.pdf
For more information on this program, contact:
Department of Justice
Government of the Northwest Territories
4903 49th Street
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories X1A 2L9
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
For more information about the Aboriginal Justice Strategy see the 2016 Evaluation of the Aboriginal Justice Strategy.
For more information on Community Justice Programs implemented across Canada see the Department of Justice Canada’s (2017) publication.
For more information on the Community Justice Program cost evaluation, refer to the Department of Justice Canada’s (2016) publication.
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