Diversion and Restorative Justice Services
What is Diversion?
Diversion models and practices provide alternative responses to offending criminal behaviour that are outside our traditional justice system, with a focus on targeting the underlying causes of the behaviour and respecting the diversity and special needs of clients.
Criminal acts undermine every citizen’s right to safe and secure communities. But in the event of a less serious offence, diversion practices provide opportunities for offenders to repair the harm caused to the victim and community while also ensuring they face meaningful and appropriate consequences for their actions.
The Guiding Principles of Diversion
Diversion aims to:
- provide meaningful, fair and appropriate consequences;
- ensure intervention in a timely fashion;
- reinforce societal and community values;
- repair the harm caused by the offence to victim(s) and the community;
- target underlying causes of criminal behaviour, resulting in participants of diversionary programs becoming more responsible and productive members of their communities;
- respect gender, cultural, racial, linguistic differences and special needs; and
- include victim considerations and participation where there is a desire to do so.
Types of Diversion Programs
Adult Diversion (Alternative Measures) - This program is intended to hold eligible adults accountable for their actions at the community level with the goal of improving the use of justice system resources by providing timely and effective alternatives to the traditional criminal justice system. The program strives to prevent and reduce future crime by ensuring access to the right services at the right time for those who require them.
Youth Diversion (Extrajudicial Sanctions) - Similar to the Alternative Measures program for adults, this intervention focuses on connecting a young person who has engaged in criminal activity to community-based services to address the risk factors that brought them in contact with the law. The goal is to help these young people steer away from future criminal behaviour.
Restorative Justice - Restorative justice is drawn from and developed out of Indigenous principles and processes, both in Canada and around the world. It seeks to repair harm and address the underlying circumstances that contributed to a crime by providing an opportunity for those who have caused harm, those who have been harmed, and appropriate community supports to communicate, address their needs, and collaboratively participate in the resolution. Diversion programs for both youth and adults may use restorative justice approaches.
Diversion is legislated and mandated by the following acts:
- Youth Criminal Justice Act
- Criminal Code of Canada
- Provincial Offences Procedure for Young Persons Act
- Canadian Victims Bill of Rights Act
- Corrections and Conditional Release Act