Times Colonist: Community Courts and safer streets

September 7, 2008 at 11:18 pm Leave a comment

An important editorial from the Sunday Times-Colonist on the Community Court initiative–a worthwhile Canadian initiative I find far from boring! A key excerpt:

Community Courts and safer streets

But there are several considerations that need attention if such programs are to succeed.

It’s true that crime rates declined dramatically in Red Hook. But the community court was just part of the response to the crime problem. New York also increased its police forces, reintroduced community patrols and aggressively prosecuted offenders at every level.

Nothing like those reforms has been tried in Vancouver. Courts have been reluctant to crack down on serial offenders, even those with scores of convictions. City police find the situation so frustrating, the chief constable, Jim Chu, has taken his case to the public, calling for much tougher sentences for career criminals with dozens of convictions.
Then there is the question of treatment services. Requiring addicts or the mentally ill to seek medical care and other services can only work if that care is available. The new court expects to handle 1,500 cases per year. The Vancouver region has only a small fraction of the spaces needed to handle that many people. The court’s effectiveness depends on giving offenders a choice — treatment and change now, or jail. It breaks down when no treatment is available.

Entry filed under: social issues.

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