Community Justice Committees are made up of local volunteers who are interested in justice issues in their community and have a desire to help youth and adult offenders take responsibility for their actions, making their community a safer place to live.
The RCMP or Crown may divert selected criminal matters away from the traditional court system to be handled by community justice committees. When a matter is diverted, the offender does not receive a criminal record.
Offenses eligible for diversion include theft, mischief, breaking and entering, alcohol and drug offenses, vandalism, and minor assaults. In deciding whether or not to request a diversion, the Crown or RCMP will consider factors such as the seriousness of the offense, the impact to and feelings of the victims, and the offender's criminal history and attitude towards the charges. Diversion is only possible if the offender accepts responsibility for the offense and is willing to participate in the community justice process.
When hearing a diverted matter, the justice committee will hear from all persons involved with the offense and attempt to create a resolution which is satisfactory to all parties. Restorative measures required by the committee may include:
- community service work;
- restitution (money paid to the victims to repair damage or loss of property);
- counseling for drug, alcohol, and relationship problems;
- apologies, either in person or in writing;
- avoiding contact with the victims or other persons involved in the offense; or
- avoiding certain places.
Most restorative measures required by a committee can be completed in less than six months. Failing to comply with the requirements could result in the case being referred back to the RCMP or Crown Attorney, who may send the matter to court.
To contact your local justice committee, or for more information on restorative justice programs in the NWT, contact the Community Justice and Policing Division. Please be aware that your community's justice committee may not be active at all times.
If you want to join your local Justice Committee and participate in diversion hearings, you must be a citizen of good standing within the community. In addition you cannot have a recent or serious criminal record; including crimes against children, homicide, weapons or sexual offense convictions. Members of a Justice Committee that sit and participate in a diversion hearing of a youth must be appointed under Section 21 of the Youth Justice Act.
To join your local committee, you will need to prepare and submit the following to your local Community Justice Committee Coordinator:
- a completed criminal records check, and
- a brief, 1 to 2 paragraph biography describing your role in the community and why you are interested in joining the Justice Committee
Once submitted, these forms are sent to the Community Justice Division office in Yellowknife for processing. Once completed, you will receive an appointment document notifying you of your appointment to the committee.