A National Survey of Youth Justice Committees in Canada

Appendix A - Survey Instruments

QUESTIONNAIRE FOR YJC POLICY (GOVERNMENT) OFFICIALS

This interview is being conducted as part of a national survey of Youth Justice Committees. This survey is sponsored by the federal Department of Justice. For this survey, the purpose is to discover how many YJCs there are in Canada, and to obtain information on the nature and scope of their work. We are also seeking your thoughts about the future of YJCs, where they are going and the challenges they face. The final report will be a public document.

Do you have any questions before we begin?

  • Policy Official's Name
  • Location
  • Telephone
  • Fax
  • email address

S. 69 of the Young Offenders Act

  • 1. We have been intrigued to find, across the country, that some provinces and territories designate their YJCs (by whatever name they call them) under s. 69 of the YOA, through the authority of the Minister, while others do not. Have you any idea - why the difference?
  • 2. Will your province/territory be designating its YJCs under the new YCJA?

Philosophy

  • 3. How would you characterize the government's philosophy of YJCs [let interviewee describe in own words, then check as many as apply below]?
    1. Providing community alternatives to imprisonment for youth
    2. Repairing the conflict between the youthful offender and the victim/community (restorative justice)
    3. Putting some of the responsibility for crime prevention back in the community
    4. Making youth accountable for their actions/providing consequences/providing an appropriate response to youthful offending
    5. Creating more tailored responses for troubled youth
    6. Creating a faster, more direct, meaningful, etc. process
    7. Re-creating an indigenous (Aboriginal) approach to youth crime or taking back Aboriginal authority over justice matters
    8. Other (specify)

Eligibility Criteria

  • 4. [Ask this Q only if we don't yet have the Policy Manual from the Province/Territory]: What offences are eligible for decisions or recommendations by the YJC?
  • 5. What is the offence found most frequently in the cases handled by the YJCs (e.g., theft under, mischief, shoplifting, common assault)? [prompt for one or two most common]
  • 6. Are there offences which are ineligible for the YJC process, but which you think should be eligible?
  • 7. How would you describe the majority of cases that are handled by the YJCs, in terms of how serious the offence is and the youth's needs are? Would you say the majority of cases are:
    1. Not serious at all
    2. Not very serious
    3. Somewhat serious
    4. Very serious
    5. NA
  • 8. Are there any cases accepted by the YJC which you believe could be handled in a more informal manner?
    1. No
    2. Some
    3. Yes
    4. NA
  • 9. [If yes] How then should they be handled?

Training

  • 10. Must YJC members undergo training in order to participate?
    • 1. Yes
    • 2. No
  • 11. What is the length of this initial training? hours
  • 12. What is the emphasis in this initial and any later, ongoing training?
    1. Background on the YJS
    2. Background on YJCs and their role
    3. Skills training (e.g., interviewing, active listening)
    4. Skills training in dispute resolution/mediation/conflict resolution
    5. Other (specify)
    6. Don't know
    7. Not applicable
  • 13. Who provides the training YJC members get, and is this working?
  • 14. Are there gaps in training you would like to see filled?

Government Funding of YJCs

  • 15. Not including in-kind assistance received (such as office space, photocopying privileges, etc.), how much annual government funding in total do YJCs receive to carry out their work with youth (i.e. this year)?
  • 16. Which governments are the sources of this funding?
    1. Provincial/territorial government (annual total received per = $ )
    2. Federal (annual total received per = $ )
    3. Municipal/hamlet (annual total received per = $ )
    4. First Nations/Aboriginal/Inuit governments (annual total received per = $ )

Sustainability

  • 17. Now I am going to read you a list of challenges often faced by YJCs. I would like you to tell me if any of these challenges are present with YJCs in your jurisdiction.
    1. Difficulty in recruiting enough members
    2. Turnover - difficulty in keeping members around for long enough
    3. Too many cases - too much burden on the YJC members
    4. Not enough cases/referrals (such that members are losing interest and skills)
    5. Not enough funding
    6. Not enough administrative support
    7. Not enough support from police, Crowns, YJS generally
    8. Not enough victims willing to participate
    9. Not enough support from the community
    10. Not enough community resources to meet the needs of youth (CSO placements, mentoring, etc.)
    11. Host agency is in danger of folding
    12. Other sustainability issues mentioned (specify)
  • 18. Now I would like to ask you about whether you think that the YJCs are sustainable - that they will still be around in a few years' time?
    1. Yes
    2. Perhaps
    3. Yes but in a different form or reduced role
    4. No
    5. Don't know
    6. NA
  • 19. What is it about your YJCs that makes them work, makes them as good as they are [best practices]?

The Future

  • 20. In your opinion, what would it take to make the YJCs more sustainable and effective?
  • 21. In your opinion, what would improve the YJCs or their functioning?
  • 22. Are there any community resources needed to make the youth justice process more effective? E.g., are there any youth needs that are really not being met?
  • 23. Has the YJC program had any negative or unintended impacts? [prompt for net widening]
  • 24. Are you aware of any provisions in the upcoming Youth Criminal Justice Act which will affect YJCs?
    • 1. Yes
    • 2. No
  • 25. Which ones stand out in particular (check which are mentioned; do not prompt)?
    1. Expanded potential roles
    2. Proportionality principle
    3. Other principles
    4. Procedural fairness requirements
    5. Giving victims the opportunity to participate
    6. Other (specify)
  • 26. Have these been discussed by the YJCs as a group?
    • 1. Yes
    • 2. No
  • 27. Are there plans for the YJC and its partners to discuss the implications of the Act for the YJC?
    • 1. Yes
    • 2. No
  • 28. Are any difficulties anticipated with any of these new parts in the Act?
    • 1. Yes
    • 2. Minor adjustments
    • 3. No
  • 29. [If yes] Which provisions are expected to cause you difficulties and why?
  • 30. I would like to read you a list of activities and ask you whether the government would be interested in seeing the YJCs expand their role to do any of them:
    1. Considering cases involving more serious youth offences or more troubled youth
    2. Delivering AMP (Alternative Measures Program) services
    3. Providing advice to youth courts on sentencing of individual youthful offenders
    4. Providing advice to other members of the YJS (specify) on appropriate measures for youth
    5. Planning and delivering crime prevention for youth programs
    6. Conducting mediation or reconciliation between youthful offenders and victims
    7. Providing support and assistance to victims (beyond information role)
    8. Meeting with youth, their families and community members in order to work out the best solutions to youth crime (Family Group Conferencing)
    9. Finding or providing placements for youth to perform community service or other elements of the measures
    10. Helping youth to find work
    11. Helping youth to make school-related adjustments (get back in school, find tutors, etc.)
    12. Helping youth to find other community supports
    13. Helping youth to find counselling, treatment, etc.
    14. Mentoring youth who have committed an offence
    15. Teaching youth about their Aboriginal culture and traditions
    16. Following up on youth (tracking their performance on CSOs, restitution, etc.)
    17. Doing public education on youth justice
    18. Mobilizing support and resources for new measures for youth (generally)
    19. Providing any of the above services for adult offenders or accused persons
    20. Other (specify)

Cases and Caseloads

  • 31. Finally, I wonder if there are any caseload statistics which are kept that you could share with me, things like the number of cases referred to the YJCs each year, who they are, what measures they receive, etc.?

Document Checklist to Ask for:

Documentation sought from YJCs includes:
  • Policy Manual
  • Eligible offences
  • Other criteria for program acceptance
  • Rights statement (informs youth and parents of their rights)
  • Waiver/consent form
  • Any and all available statistics, e.g., on case numbers, offences involved, measures
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