The Alternative Measures 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.
Adult Diversion (Alternative Measures)
Under what conditions is someone who has committed an offence referred to the Alternative Measures Program?
Section 717 of the Criminal Code of Canada (CCC) allows for the use of Alternative Measures for adults when:
- the person is 18 years of age or older (there is a separate program for youth between the ages of 12-17 who are in conflict with the law called Extrajudicial Sanctions);
- sufficient evidence exists that an offence has been committed;
- the offence is on the Province’s Adult Schedule of Offences;
- the adult takes responsibility for the act that forms the basis of the offence; and
- participation is in the best interest of the person alleged to have committed the offence and not counter to the best interest of the victim and society
How does the Alternative Measures Program work?
Adults can be referred to the Diversion program before being charged with an offence (pre-charge). Successful completion of the pre-charge program within the required time frame will result in no charges being laid against program participants for the offence committed. If the adult is not successful in completing the program, they may be charged with the original offence and be processed through court.
Adults can also be referred to the program at several points in the court process after charges are laid (post-charge). In the case of a post-charge, court proceedings can be postponed to provide the opportunity for participation in the Alternative Measures program. When the requirements of the post-charge program are met by the adult, charges are withdrawn. If the adult is not successful in completing the post-charge program, their case will proceed through the court process.
Diversion coordinators are responsible for ensuring that every adult referred to the program has an appropriate plan in place for accountability and intervention. Intervention plans focus on connecting the adult to community-based services to address the risk factors most closely associated with the offending behaviour so that they do not commit another offence. Accountability measures are intended to hold the adult responsible for the offence committed at the community level. Examples of accountability measures may include, but are not limited to:
- paying restitution to the victim;
- completing a period of community service;
- attending special information and education sessions; and
- providing personal service work for the victim.
The Diversion program permits the use of restorative processes where appropriate. These processes provide safe opportunities for communication between the adult and the victim and others affected by the offence. Restorative practices also allow the adult to repair the harm done to those harmed by the offending behaviour.
Diversion coordinators can work individually with adults referred to the program. They can also call on Multidisciplinary Alternative Measures Committees for assistance in determining the most effective interventions and accountability measures.
What role does the adult/person responsible for causing harm play?
To take part in the Alternative Measures program, eligible adults:
- must consent to take part in the program;
- must accept responsibility for the act that forms the basis of the offence;
- must respond in a timely manner to all communication from the Diversion coordinator;
- will be asked to answer questions as part of the screening and assessment process. These questions provide information about the offence and the participant’s background that can help to inform the development of appropriate accountability measures and intervention plans (if required);
- may need to meet with the Diversion coordinator and the Multidisciplinary Alternative Measures Committee;
- will need to sign a program agreement; and
- must complete the agreed-on accountability measure(s) and intervention plan.
What role is played by the victim(s)/persons harmed?
Victims have the right to voice their concerns related to the offence committed and how they would like it to be addressed. While the views of the victim(s) are always considered before making an Adult Diversion program referral, these views do not preclude an adult from being referred to the Diversion program. The victim(s) may also choose to participate in any processes established to facilitate reconciliation between themselves and the offender. The victim(s) also has the right to request information about the identity of the offender and to be informed of how the offence has been dealt with.