The Thunder Bay Youth Justice Committee Program is based on a restorative approach to justice. It includes participation of victims, offenders and communities to provide an opportunity for healing and reparation for individuals and communities. It gives priority to the offender accountability, needs of the victims, community wellness and healing.
The Thunder Bay Youth Justice Committee is made up of volunteers in the community who work with the Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre and other participants in the criminal justice system, such as Crown Attorneys, Police, Victim Services, Probation, Legal Aid Ontario, etc.
The Thunder Bay Youth Justice Committee program provides an alternative to formal court proceedings by referrals from police (pre-charge), and gives an opportunity for victims to be involved and for all participants to negotiate measures for young persons.
In order for a young person to be referred to the program, they must be willing to participate in the program and be aware of their options and rights and be prepared to be accountable. The program deals with minor, first-time offences committed by young persons aged 12 to 17.
Benefits for the Victim
- An opportunity to actively participate in the process of resolving the incident.
- An opportunity to be more fully informed about: the incident itself, the young person, and the criminal justice system.
- Access to this kind of information often helps people with fear, frustration, anxiety and a sense of alienation.
- Greatly increases chance of receiving a meaningful restitution or reparation.
- An opportunity to resolve the incident in a peaceful way.
- An opportunity to experience a sense of closure or healing.
- An opportunity to let the young person know how the offence has harmed the victim/other person(s).
Benefits for Young Person
- An opportunity to be aware of the harm suffered as a result of wrongful behaviour
- An opportunity to “make it right” with the person harmed.
- An opportunity to take responsibility in a serious and honest way and possibly avoid a criminal record.
- An opportunity to be fully informed about what is happening, the impact of their actions, the options for dealing with the charges faced, and the criminal justice system and its processes.
- An opportunity to fully participate in finding a fair & reasonable way to resolve the incident
- An opportunity for volunteers to develop skills that empower them to resolve present and future conflicts that arise in the community.
- Increased likelihood of deterrence from further harmful behaviour through having young people take direct, face-to-face responsibility for their actions.
- An opportunity to contribute to community safety and harmony.
Criminal Justice System Benefits
- An alternative process for dealing with many cases that may not find a positive, meaningful resolution in the courts
- Effective means of increasing community understanding of and participation in the criminal justice system.
- A process that can reduce the frustration of those harmed