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Saturday, September 20, 2014
Saskatchewan Justice

What are alternative measures?

Alternative measures offer adults accused of a criminal offence the opportunity to take responsibility for their behaviour and address the harm that has been committed. These adults participate in a program that resolves cases within a community agency or with community participation.

Alternative measures are a way to address crime in conjunction with the criminal justice system. These programs attempt to deal with criminal behaviour in a proactive manner.

These programs attempt to:

  • balance the needs of victims, the accused and their communities; and
  • ensure that society is protected.

The alternative measures programs supported by Saskatchewan Justice include community justice and alternative measures programs currently Supported by the Community Services Branch of Saskatchewan Justice:

  • Agency Chiefs Tribal Council Justice Program
  • Ahtahkakoop First Nation Community Justice Program
  • Battlefords/Lloydminster Adult Alternative Measures Program
  • Battlefords Tribal Council Community Justice Program
  • Beardy's & Okemasis First Nation Justice Program
  • Big River Community Justice Diversion Program
  • Buffalo Narrows Community Justice Diversion Program
  • Creighton Alternative Measures Program
  • Estevan Adult Alternative Measures Program
  • File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council Community Justice Initiative
  • Kindersley Community Justice Committee
  • La Loche Community Justice Program
  • Meadow Lake District Community Justice Diversion Forum
  • Meadow Lake Tribal Council Administration of Cree and Dene Justice Initiative
  • Melfort Community Justice Diversion Program
  • Métis Family and Community Justice Initiative
  • Mistawasis Justice Program
  • Moose Jaw Diversion Program
  • Nipawin Alternative Measures Program
  • Onion Lake First Nation Tribal Justice Program
  • Pasquia Hills Community Justice Diversion Program (includes Carrot River, Arborfield and Zenon Park)
  • Prince Albert Alternative Measures Program
  • Prince Albert Grand Council Community Justice Program
  • Qu'Appelle Valley Friendship Centre Alternative Measures Program
  • Regina Alternative Measures Program
  • Saskatoon Community Mediation Services Diversion Program
  • Saskatoon Tribal Council, Inc. Community Justice Program
  • Southeast Treaty Four Tribal Council Justice Program
  • Swift Current Community Justice Forum Adult Mediation-Diversion Program
  • Tisdale Community Justice Program
  • Thunderchild First Nation Community Justice Program
  • Touchwood Agency Tribal Council Community Justice Initiative
  • Valley West Community Justice Committee Inc. (includes Martensville and surrounding communities)
  • Weyburn Alternative Measures Program
  • Yorkton Tribal Council Community Justice Program and Alternative Measures Program  

Alternative measures can be used for adult and youth cases. In Saskatchewan, adult alternative measures programs are the responsibility of Saskatchewan Justice. Justice alternatives for youth have been authorized in the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Alternative measures for youth (which are now called youth extrajudicial sanctions) have been available since the mid-1980s. In Saskatchewan, programs for youth are the responsibility of Corrections and Public Safety.

Adult alternative measures programs for Saskatchewan were authorized in 1996, following the proclamation of Bill C-41.  This Bill enshrined the principles of community-based sentencing and other justice alternatives for adults into the Criminal Code.

There are guidelines for the use of adult alternative measures and youth extrajudicial sanctions.  Alternative measures and extrajudicial sanctions are authorized by the provisions of the Criminal Code and Youth Criminal Justice Act, Ministerial Orders and policies. The Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice Adult Alternative Measures Policy (2011) guides alternative measures programs for adults, while the Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice Young Offender Extrajudicial Sanctions Policy (2011) guides similar programs for youth.

Among other things, the Criminal Code and the Youth Criminal Justice Act provide that alternative measures and extrajudicial sanctions can only be used when:

  • they are appropriate in regards to the needs of the accused, society and the victim;
  • the accused freely consents to participate and has been advised of the right to be represented by legal counsel; and
  • the accused accepts responsibility for the offence.   

There are several criteria for referring cases to alternative measures and extrajudicial sanctions programs.  The criteria are laid out in the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Ministerial Orders and the Ministry of Justice policies.  There are some offences that are ineligible for alternative measures or extrajudicial sanctions. Offences that are not eligible include:

  • incidents involving the use of or threatened use of a weapon where the Crown proceeds by Indictment;
  • any offence involving the use of or threatened use of bladed weapons, firearms, or any restricted or prohibited weapons;
  • offences involving violence against any person where the Crown proceeds by Indictment;
  • offences involving sexual violence against children or the sexual exploitation of children (including sexual assault, sexual interference, luring, child pornography and procurement);
  • offences involving spousal/partner violence;
  • offences involving a sexual assault where the Crown proceeds by Indictment;
  • perjury;
  • Criminal Code driving offences in which drugs or alcohol are a contributing factor or in which the offender was driving while disqualified;
  • federal offences other than Criminal Code offences (the availability of alternative measures and extrajudicial sanctions regarding these offences is determined by the federal Department of Justice.)

The decision about which offenders are eligible for these programs is made by the Crown Prosecutor, although police, defence lawyers, the victim or the accused may request a referral to an alternative measures program. The Saskatchewan Justice Alternative Measures Policy outlines the guidelines for adult alternative measures programs.

There are many types of alternative measures. In Saskatchewan, some of the most common are:

  • Victim-offender mediation, in which victims and accused meet with a trained mediator who assists in resolving the conflict. Mediation may involve surrogate victims if the real victim is unable or unwilling to participate:
  • Mediation circles, in which the victim, the accused and members of the community meet to work out an agreement that satisfies the victim, meets the needs of the accused, and gives members of the community a role in helping both parties: and
  • Diversion, in which offenders are referred to counseling, educational programs, addictions treatment, or other programs that may help them deal with personal issues.  

The victim is consulted before initiating alternative measures. The victim receives information about alternative measures and then chooses whether he or she wishes to participate in the process. Every effort is made to secure the victim's involvement in alternative measures cases. The victim's participation is very important to the alternative measures process. Many victims want to:

  • tell the accused person how they feel about the offence;
  • understand the actions of the accused; and/or
  • receive some form of compensation.

The victim may also help the accused accept responsibility for his or her actions.

However, if the victim is unwilling or unable to participate, the case may still go to an alternative measures program. Some programs use a "surrogate victim" to portray the interests of the community.

Even if the victim chooses not to participate, he or she will be advised about the outcome of the case. The victim will also be informed of whether the accused successfully completes the alternative measures program. 



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