Ontario Launching New Justice Model in London
Creating Community Justice Centres London, Toronto, and Kenora
Ontario is launching a new and innovative initiative to respond to the overrepresentation of marginalized, racialized and Indigenous people in the criminal justice system.
Community Justice Centres move justice out of the traditional courtroom and into a community setting to help connect individuals with holistic supports that address the root causes of crime. The centres are justice hubs that bring together services - for example justice, health, mental health and addictions, housing, and social services - to respond to the unique needs of the communities they serve.
In London, young adults aged 18 to 25 make up a significant proportion of criminal charges. As these young adults age out of child protection or teenage social and health services they often are at higher risk of entering the criminal justice system. The city also has a large number of young adults who are unemployed or not engaged in education or training.
Once established, London's Youth-in-Transition Community Justice Hub will:
- Support preventative programming for young adults at risk of contact with the law
- Address the unique issues relating to young adult mental health, substance abuse, education and employment
- Develop programs/solutions to reflect evidence-based data on young adult neurological and emotional development
- Focus on education, training, life skills and employment
Connecting young adults in-transition with critical supports at an early stage, will help address the underlying factors leading to contact with the law.
The London initiative is one of three launching in Ontario, with the other centres located in Toronto and Kenora. Each centre will be designed by and for the individual community, with support from local and provincial partners. Continuous evaluation of the centres will ensure evidence-based decisions are made to improve outcomes and refine the services they provide.
Ontario's plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, and free preschool child care from 2 ½ to kindergarten.
- Ontario worked with community leaders, Indigenous service providers, health and social service agencies, and justice partners to explore whether a Community Justice Centre model could improve the integration and delivery of justice, health and social services in London.
- Local design and planning will begin in fall of 2018. Implementation is forecasted to begin in 2020.
- Police-reported data shows that young adults aged 18 to 24 have the highest rates of criminal offending of any age group in Canada.
- Recent research indicates that young adult offenders aged 18 to 24 are more similar to youth than to adults with respect to their offending, maturation and life circumstances.
- In 2016, transition-aged youth between 18 and 25 years old accounted for nearly one-third of all criminal arrests and charges in London.
- The Community Justice Centre model in other jurisdictions has led to healthier and safer communities with improved outcomes for recidivism rates, public safety, community well-being, rates of incarceration, trust in the justice system, and cost savings.
“For vulnerable young adults with a history of poverty, homelessness, and mental health or addictions issues, the justice system is often the first point of contact to access programs and services. The Community Justice Centre in London will provide comprehensive supports and services for vulnerable people to make long-term positive changes in their lives. By providing this holistic approach, it is my hope that we can break the cycle of re-offending by addressing the root cause of the criminal behaviour.”
“We are committed to working collaboratively to enhance timely and meaningful justice services for the public. These kinds of innovative initiatives can have a real and positive impact on people’s lives.”
“A Youth-in-Transition Community Justice Hub will provide critical support to young adults aged 18-25, currently spiralling in London's criminal justice system. Through this Hub, the London Police Service will continue to strengthen links with local health, mental health and addictions agencies, as well as continuing education and employment organizations to improve outcomes for young people and prevent them from falling through the gaps and getting lost in the criminal justice and correctional systems.”
“The establishment of the Youth-in-Transition Community Justice Hub in London will improve the integration and delivery of justice, health and social services for youth aged 18-25 years. The John Howard Society of London and District supports youth who are involved or at risk of involvement with the criminal justice system. The Hub will enhance our agency’s efforts to collaborate with other local youth and justice partners to address the unique needs of our youth clients and provide them access to critical services.”