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Contact

Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly

PO Box 1320  |  Yellowknife, NT  X1A 2L9

Harm Reduction

  Introduce more extensive restorative justice options by:

  1. Increasing funding for alternative measures

  2. Creating better access to cultural resources

  3. Implementing Indigenous-led justice models

  4. Focusing on rehabilitation before punishment

  5. Requiring more frequent and detailed mental health assessments

  6. Building tiered correctional facilities

> As a lawyer I have worked with prosecutors, RCMP officers, inmates, social workers and victims of crime in the criminal justice system throughout the Northwest Territories. Through this work it has become clear to me that the justice system does not, in fact, promote justice.

 

>Across the spectrum there is a general agreement that the system is broken, although different opinions on how best to fix it. The status quo approach to criminal justice in the North is shrouded in tough on crime rhetoric which has proven ineffective time and time again. To move forward we must first answer where is the criminal justice system going wrong?

 

> Policies that focus on punishment instead of rehabilitation ensure we spend more money keeping offenders in prison than we do rehabilitating them. This is something fiscal conservatives seem to be oddly silent on, despite recognizing that early parole options such as halfway houses decrease crime and save money. We must remember that those who habitually commit crimes are a very small fraction of the population, and when there is meaningful effort to provide continuous rehabilitative services, where community members are tasked with being accountable in their position of service to a person, then real change occurs. 

 

>  Those adults who are offending were once children — the same children we talk about protecting. Some have slipped through the cracks, some for so long that we miss our chance to correct their course early on. This is all our failure, and we must not give up on any of our citizens.

> The Northwest Territories is in a unique position, because of the untapped potential for Indigenous-led justice models, concurrent with rehabilitative models which pay for themselves by decreasing crime rates. If we lead the way on progressive change, we can make real change on a national level.

 

>  We must focus on policies that address the key indicators of a reduction in the number of crimes committed. Here's what we want to achieve: fewer new offenders, fewer reoffenders, and an overall improved quality of care and quality of life for those people who are or have previously been involved —whether offender or victim — in the criminal justice system.

> We need a restorative justice system which re-humanizes the correctional process: that addresses root problems rather than just treating the symptoms. It ensures that justice is focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment. The six points above are how I propose the NWT take the first steps to a truly just criminal justice system.

Improve our Mental Health and Treatment Services by:

  1. Building a treatment centre in Yellowknife

  2. Increasing funding for programs such as for the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation

  3. Implementing a Managed Alcohol Program

> The effects of inter-generational trauma, colonial structures, addictions, and other mental health issues are the root cause of the social issues that we face in the NWT. We need to increase access to mental health services by:

-Encouraging early intervention

-Increasing the number of mental health professionals serving our communities

-Community-led initiatives

-Minimum unit pricing and a wet shelter

-Increasing education programs focused on mental health

-Adopting progressive rehabilitation policies based on the best available science

-Increasing homeless and at-risk awareness with publicly available surveys and statistics

-Increasing support for the Housing First model.