Community Justice Division
Alternatives to court
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.