What are Youth Justice Committees?
The Youth Criminal Justice Act provides an opportunity for citizens to become directly involved in the administration of justice by forming Youth Justice Committees. The program provides a meaningful alternative to court for Calgary youth from 12-18 years of age involved in criminal activity of a less serious nature.
First-time offenders represent the largest population of young people who come into contact with our criminal justice system. Through the efforts of 150 volunteers, we serve over 210 communities in Calgary and, provide a meaningful alternative for hundreds of youth a year.
The program is tailor-made to each youth, has a high level of collaboration with the justice system and community partners, and retains long-serving volunteers who deliver a professional service.
Community volunteers work with young people, their families, victims, the legal system and the community in order to find appropriate, meaningful consequences for a young person who has committed a crime.
Youth Justice Committees are a proven, effective response to youth crime as they hold young people accountable for their actions while giving them an opportunity to turn their lives around.
Do you have questions about Youth Justice Committees
Are you Youth Justice Committee Volunteer?
- Young persons should be held accountable for their criminal behaviour
- There must be regard for the rights and freedoms of young people and victims
- The least intrusive alternatives and restrictions of young persons freedom must be sought while still maintaining the protection of the community
- Parents have a responsibility for the care and supervision of their child
- The community has a right and responsibility to participate in the youth justice system. A Youth Justice Committee (YJC) is an opportunity for citizens to become directly involved in reconciling differences between the young offender, victims and community members
While each Youth Justice Committee in Calgary operates differently, there are some common procedures.
Other than the arresting officer, the Youth Justice Committee volunteer is often the first contact the youth has with the justice system. Once the Committee receives a file, they contact the young person as well as their parents and the victim to gather information and arrange a meeting.
A panel of three volunteers will meet with the young person and their parents. This hour-long interview is a discussion of important factors including the circumstances of the offence, the young person’s school background, their family situation, special interests, what consequences have already been administered at home, the parents’ concerns, etc.
With this information the Committee partners with the youth and parents to determine appropriate consequence(s) for the activity in question. The Committee will also follow up with the youth to ensure that they have completed the Extra Judicial Sanctions Agreement successfully. If they are successful, criminal charges do not proceed or, if already filed, the charges are withdrawn.
In Calgary, Youth Justice Committees work with the government in administering the Extra Judicial Sanctions Program. For a youth to be eligible for Extra Judicial Sanctions, they must have committed an eligible offence, accept responsibility for their actions, and agree to participate in the program.
If they meet these criteria and there is a Youth Justice Committee in the community where they reside, the case is automatically referred to that committee. Some Committees also take on additional roles such as mentoring youth just released from serving time in custody, as well as educating the community about youth crime.
150 volunteers donate their time to Youth Justice Committees. They design individual responses for each young offender, which correlate to the type of offence committed and the social challenges they face.
The young people in the program have accepted responsibility for their actions. It is often their first or second offence and their crimes are considered ‘minor’, such as theft under $5000, common assault, property damage, or mischief.
To make amends for their actions, young people are often asked to volunteer in community service, attend a program, make a charitable donation, or provide restitution to a victim.