Review of the Nunavut Community Justice Program: Final Report

10. RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. The present method of funding Community Justice Committees should be reassessed. Per capita allocation to communities may be inappropriate as some committees are not using their funds as effectively as possible, while other committees are effective but could use more funds. Nunavut Justice Headquarters, together with the Specialists, should take the following steps. First, each Specialist should engage in a yearly planning session with her Committees. These sessions should be adequately funded and facilitated by a professional. Second, each Committee should be assessed yearly on (a) its plans and their potential cost-effectiveness, and (b) the capacity of the Committee to carry out the plan. Funds would then be allocated accordingly by Nunavut Justice Headquarters. While overall resources would remain limited, the process just described would help to rationalize the distribution of those resources.
  2. Nunavut Justice Headquarters, together with the Specialists, should ensure that territory-wide program outcome measures are developed and implemented. Subsequently, the Community Justice Program should be assessed on a community-by-community basis each year. This need not be an elaborate or expensive exercise and can be done largely using data provided by the Coordinators (see Recommendation 3) and telephone interviews with community consultees such as police and Crown Prosecutors.
  3. Coordinators should keep complete and accurate records of all referrals to the committees. In particular, it is essential that Coordinators complete the Nunavut Community Justice Agreement Form in as much detail as possible. The Coordinators should record for each referral the following information on the role of the victim: (a) whether the victim gave permission for the referral to proceed; (b) whether the victim participated in the process; and, (c) if the victim participated, the specifics of her/his role. It is also important for the Coordinators to provide some detail on the nature of the intervention chosen by the Committee. For example, did the committee engage in traditional counseling of the offender alone; mediation between the offender and the victim; family group conferencing; etc? Details about who participated in each intervention (for example, parents, committee members) would also be useful information to record. Finally, Coordinators should include on the form, or at least in their case records, the degree of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the process and the outcome by the offender and the victim. The reasons for these assessments should also be recorded.
  4. Community Justice Committees should attempt to involve the victim in the community justice process. In cases when the victim chooses not to participate but does not disagree with the community justice process, Community Justice Committees should then decide, using their own criteria, whether to proceed with counseling for the offender when the safety and well-being of the victim are in no way compromised.
  5. The RCMP and the Crown Prosecutors should respect the decisions of the Committees and should continue to refer cases when the victim may not be directly involved, as just described.
  6. Nunavut Justice should meet with the RCMP and, if necessary, with Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada and Justice Canada regarding the emerging RCMP policy of diverting cases only if the victim will be involved in the process. In the interest of respecting Inuit approaches to managing problems in Inuit communities, Community Justice Committees should have the right to make the decision as to whether the committee will handle a case even if the victim chooses not to participate (but gives his/her consent to the community justice process as described in point 4 above).
  7. Nunavut Justice should do a community-by-community assessment as to the need for a full-time Coordinator. In those communities where the workload is deemed to warrant a full-time Coordinator, adequate funding should be provided.
  8. Coordinators should be paid at a standard rate that is competitive with other jobs of similar level in the communities. Coordinator positions should be made permanent and Coordinators should receive the full benefits package enjoyed by other Government of Nunavut employees.
  9. Coordinators should have a standard job description that can be modified by individual Community Justice Committees to meet specific Committee needs and approaches. Nunavut Justice Headquarters would be in a position to assess the modifications for approval.
  10. Coordinators should be hired on the basis of standard criteria. Draft criteria are currently being circulated.[21] Interviews should be undertaken by the Community Justice Committee together with the relevant Specialist.
  11. Training should be an ongoing component of the Community Justice Program. Nunavut and Canada should provide funds to ensure that Committee members, Coordinators and Specialists receive relevant training in a timely manner. Committee members require training in the YCJA, family group conferencing and, possibly, in the community justice forum approach. Coordinators require training in the techniques just mentioned, as well as money management and accounting, record keeping, reporting, and planning and priority setting. Specialists and the Assistant Director, Community Justice must also be current in all these areas.
  12. Community Justice Committees require dedicated space for their counseling and mediation activities. Coordinators need dedicated space to perform their administrative duties and keep files securely. Nunavut Justice should discuss the provision of this space with Hamlets and should fund space rental where needed.
  13. The current system of appointment to Community Justice Committees should be revised so that it is standard across Nunavut, fair and equitable, and ensures that the best candidates are appointed. The draft guidelines currently being shared should be considered seriously by all Committees and Hamlets.
  14. Several Community Justice Committees do not have the understanding of their communities. Therefore, they lack the solid and active community support they need in order to operate most effectively. Those Committees should attempt to bridge the gap by (a) making yearly presentations to their Hamlet Councils on their mandate and progress, and (b) engaging with the community through radio shows and social events. Community events can also be viewed as crime prevention activities.
  15. ery Community Justice Committee in Nunavut should seriously examine and consider signing the draft Protocol. If minor modifications are required in order to align the document with community needs and realities, this should be done.
  16. Some Committees have the capacity to implement and maintain land programs and other cultural programs (such as sewing classes) for youth and, possibly, adults. In cases when Committees express an interest in maintaining a land or cultural program, and when those Committees develop a sound plan and are judged by Justice Headquarters and the Specialists to have the capacity to handle such programs, Headquarters should make every effort to secure the required funds.
  17. Justices of the Peace are sometimes reluctant to refer cases to the Community Justice Committees because they are unclear as to how the Committees work. In those communities where Justices of the Peace are not referring cases, the Committee should make a point of meeting with the Justice of the Peace and explaining its mandate and mode of operation. Together they should come to an agreement about case referral.
  18. Coordinators should submit a copy of their status reports on referred cases to Crown Prosecutors, as well as to police.
  19. Community Justice Committees, Crown Prosecutors, Judges and Specialists should consider - at some future point - the possibility of Committees taking on post-conviction counseling as part of judicial probation orders. At this time, with some exceptions, the capacity of Committees is not up to this task.
  20. The Rankin Inlet Victim Support Program should be funded to enable it to prepare victims for family group conferencing sessions run by the Community Justice Committee

[21] At this time, all six Community Justice Specialists are women.

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