PACT Youth Crime Reduction Program

PACT Youth Crime Reduction Program

November 14, 2005 12:16 ET

FIXING CANADA'S JUSTICE SYSTEM AND STOPPING YOUTH CRIME

Seven Facts for Restorative Justice Week, Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, City Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 14, 2005) - In the spirit of Restorative Justice Week, November 13-20, The PACT Youth Crime Reduction Program http://www.pactprogram.ca has outlined the top-seven facts and benefits of restorative justice reform to the Canadian Youth Justice System.

Restorative Justice is a theory of criminal justice that focuses on lesser crimes as an act against the community rather than the state. The process involves working with the charged youth, the victim, the families, police and community, in an effort to rehabilitate the offender while providing closure to the victim - something that often doesn't happen in court.

PACT is almost entirely privately funded through community and business groups such as Rotary. In fact, Toronto Rotary Clubs have contributed $70,000 in the past 22 months to battle GTA youth crime through PACT.

1. Restorative Justice concentrates on getting to youth early and eroding the foundation for criminal and violent behaviour;

2. It frees up the courts and the police to deal more effectively with the most serious cases;
PACT has received 700 Youth Court referrals in the GTA, freeing up crown attorneys, probation and judges and allowing more resources and time for the most serious crimes.

3. It ensures accountability for all offenders;
"As for the consequences handed out to the young offender, with PACT they happen quickly, and are often more extensive and meaningful than a judge would order" --Quote from a judge and former prosecutor.

4. It focuses on healing and empowering victims:
Victims are often dragged through multiple court appearances without compensation or input. Victims are often re-traumatized by the experience.

Restorative justice give victims of crime the chance to face the offender, receive restitution, have a say in the outcome and gain closure.

5. Restorative Justice saves taxpayer money:
Direct financial costs out of the taxpayer's pocket related to one charged youth:
* Average court cost $2,000;
* Legal Aid costs - one youth $1,000;
* Annual probation cost $4,500;
* Annual custody cost $100,000 or more;
* Massive indirect costs of policing, counselling and probation.
(PACT has been chosen as one of six Restorative Justice Demonstration Sites by the Ontario government, which entails some pilot government funding - a first in the charity's five years of operation in the youth courts.)

6. Restorative Justice isn't just about victim-offender mediation.

PACT youth make films about Guns/Drugs and cook meals for seniors.

PACT community service projects keep kids connected and offer an opportunity for youth to make restitution for their behaviour while learning skills - allowing them to begin the process of reintegration.

- PACT runs a cooking school for youth in conflict with the law, which is fully funded by local kitchen retailer, Marjorie Agnew, owner of The Main Course on Avenue Road http://www.themaincourse.ca

At the end of each six-week cooking course, there is a community service contribution. PACT brings in some lonely seniors to give them a night out and a prepared meal. The youth plan for the meal, shop and cook.

PACT runs a film school for youth in conflict with the law, launched in the fall of 2005. The first group of youth made the film "Choices" a public service announcement that tells the story of a teenager choosing a life of gangs and crime or a more hopeful life. The film, was given an exclusive screening for politicians and community leaders on a jumbo screen at a recent Toronto anti-gun rally

7. Restorative Justice Works!! And often much better than the present system.
Prior to engaging community justice solutions and groups such as PACT in 2003, Canada had one of the harshest young offender systems in the Western world. It incarcerated its youth at 10-times the rate its adult population and twice the rate of American youth. Yet, 43 per cent of Canadian youth who were convicted were charged again within a year.

Restorative justices programs have seen as high as a 90 per cent reduction in recidivism around the world.

Please visit http://www.pactprogram.ca for more information.

Media Contact
Terance Brouse
(905) 832-7653
tbrouse@pactprogram.ca
/For further information: http://www.pactprogram.ca/ IN: JUSTICE, SOCIAL

Contact Information

  • terance Brouse, Community Relations, PACT Youth Crime Reduction Program
    Primary Phone: 905-832-7653
    E-mail: tbrouse@pactprogram.ca