Downtown Community Court Guiding Principles
- Community court prides itself in dealing with cases fairly but quickly. Timely resolution minimizes inconvenience to victims and witnesses, builds public confidence in the justice system and connects offenders to the programs and resources they need to change their behaviour.
- Accused persons come to court quickly, where they are assisted by a Community Court defence counsel.
- Better information about the accused means fewer delays and more informed decisions.
- Where community service is appropriate, it starts immediately. Needs for other services are identified early and referrals are made quickly.
- The justice system cannot solve complex social and crime problems by itself. The community court works with partners in the health and social service systems, and the community.
- Most repeat offenders have a cluster of problems feeding their criminal behaviour. All the programs and services involved with them are most effective when they are co-ordinated and support the same objectives and approach.
- Communities are best protected when the justice system uses its influence and authority to connect offenders to services which can help them move away from criminal behaviour.
Connection to Community
- Both the justice system and communities benefit when they work together on their common interests in public safety and accountability for criminal behaviour.
- Crime damages communities as well as individual victims. Community Court recognizes the harm to all and holds offenders responsible for repairing or compensating for the damage they have done.
- Community court is visible and accessible. It welcomes visitors, reports regularly to the community on its work, and responds to questions and suggestions. It puts offenders to work on jobs which are of value to the community.
- Many sentences handed down by the community court will include community service, where offenders will make reparation to the community for harm done.
- Local organizations, businesses and service providers can get involved by working with the court to develop community service projects and opportunities for offenders to serve sentences. These projects can also help offenders gain new job skills and work experience and develop pro-social behaviour.
- The business community helps offenders by providing employment opportunities, helping offenders make the shift towards responsibility and independence.
- Service providers and volunteer organizations help offenders find and attend programs.