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Conferencing in the Youth Criminal Justice Act of Canada: Policy Developments in British Columbia

Hillian, Douglas
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice. 46(3): 343-366.

Drawing on principles and practices from the diversion and restorative justice movements in juvenile justice, conferencing is the process that brings selected people together to give advice on decisions regarding the response to a harmful, illegal act committed by a juvenile. The YCJA encourages but does not require conferencing. Conferencing policies and guidelines were drafted within the Youth Justice Policy and Program Support branch of the British Columbia Ministry of Children and Family Development, and these policies were implemented to coincide with passage of the YCJA on April 1, 2003. This discussion of conferencing in British Columbia focuses on six types of conferences: multidisciplinary or integrated management conferences, which involve a meeting of all parties who are working with a juvenile and his/her family for the purpose of developing an integrated service plan; family group restorative conferences, which are designed to bring together a juvenile offender and the person harmed by the offense, along with their respective families and supporters, as well as other key people affected by the harm and relevant community residents; community accountability programs, which are neighborhood programs that accept referrals from police to resolve relatively minor offenses as an alternative to court proceedings; youth justice committees, which act as citizen advisory committees to the youth court; victim-offender reconciliation programs, which bring victims and offenders together with a trained mediator to bring resolution to an offense; and Aboriginal sentencing circles, which involve representatives of the community, the victim, the offender, supporters, and respected elders meeting to determine how an offense should be resolved. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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