Hi everyone. It has been awhile now. Almost an entire year. In that year a lot has happened:
· I am now one of the co-chairs for the Criminal Lawyers Association’s accessibility committee. We’ve made submissions to the Ontario Courts Accessibility Committee (OCAC) to improve accessibility to the justice system and we will continue to improve accessibility with all aspects of the courts.
· The case involving Abbie Road in the Kamloops gas station is now resolved. You can read more about that by following the recently posted links on the media tab of this page. https://benlaw.ca/media/
· 9 clients had their charges withdrawn. In most cases counselling was the key factor in the crown’s willingness to resolve the issue.
There are many useful resources to get counselling for clients with limited means.
The John Howard Society – www.johnhoward.ca offers services across Canada you will need to search your local area to find services specific to your region.
The Canadian Association Elizabeth Fry Society offers services for women and has 24 member organizations across Canada. Again, you will have to search more locally to find services offered in your area.
The Salvation Army is another organization operating across Canada, known for their thrift stores and food banks, they also have counselling services tailored to fit within provincial rehabilitation services . One such example can be found here:
There are literally hundreds of local organizations across Canada. I am busy learning the various services and programs offered in my area. I also had the pleasure of helping out someone from B.C. who was able to take advantage of the services offered by Mid-Island Men Services You can read more about them here:
· One of my early inspirations for this blog: the Young Adult Diversion Project released a tool kit. It can be found here: https://cte.ed.gov/yadiversion/. It is a fascinating read and provides good evidence for a fact which is not surprising to learn. Individuals given the chance to resolve charges without being incarcerated are less likely to encounter more difficulty with the law in the future, and have better prospects of employment. This is just a good resource to cite when you actually want to have support for that fairly obvious proposition.
· Effective diversion involves active participation in community programs. Meaningful engagement is required for the process to work. Individual voices need to guide the process in order to give good effect to the principles involved.
The Restorative Schools early diversion pilot project found the benefit of having student voices shape the conversation in a meaningful way. Even in cases where the behavior was not corrected, respectful engagement was increased and delinquency rates were lowered.
Their report can be found here:
One of the most compelling parts of the report showed how isolation contributes to delinquency and further engagement with the law. The report suggests that school suspensions damage relationships, contributing to isolation and depression. Therefore, effective engagement encourages active participation that engages individuals in actively crafting and implementing solutions to problem behavior.
Again, the lesson here is that early intervention can prevent a host of problems down the road. It is important to focus resources in this early stage intervention in order to promote healthier communities.
· Restorative justice has the power to heal the community
Finally, I would like to close this blog by sharing a couple links to an inspirational story that shows how the restorative justice approach can be used for heinous crimes, and also how the approach is integral for survivors and their own personal journey of healing.
Follow the links and read more if you have the time and inclination. In the mean time I will continue to work towards implementing these types of solutions for my clients.
Have a great 2022!