On March 25, the Family Violence Intervention Court
pilot project in St. Johnís commenced at Provincial Court with Judge
Gregory Brown presiding. Based upon the principles of therapeutic
jurisprudence, this court places an emphasis on safety for victims and
accountability for the offender while addressing the root causes of
family violence in our society. The court will sit every second
The intent of the Family Violence Intervention Court
is to provide, in select cases, a timely, effective and co-ordinated
response to family violence. With the implementation of this court we
are taking a significant step forward in tackling the issues associated
with violence in the home. A collaborative effort has been undertaken by
various agencies including the Provincial Court, the Transition House
Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, the police, prosecutors, Legal
Aid along with Iris Kirby House and the John Howard Society to ensure
the needs of victims and offenders are met.
When a charge of family violence is first brought to
Provincial Court it will be identified for referral to the Family
Violence Intervention Court. The accused individual will be given a
court date, information about the court and, if the offender takes
responsibility for their actions, will meet with a risk assessment
officer to determine if eligibility requirements are met. If met,
defense counsel will become engaged and a guilty plea will be submitted
to the court. The judge will accept this plea but postpone sentencing
until the completion of essential family-violence intervention. While
intervention is ongoing, the accused will be on supervised bail and will
periodically return to court to update the judge. Once completed the
accused returns to court for sentencing.
This court is not about being soft on crime but about
finding alternative measures to address family violence and its impacts.
A team consisting of a bail supervisor, Child, Youth and Family Services
social worker, Victim Services representative and a family violence
counselor will be engaged throughout the process. Services will be
available to those, including children, who have been impacted by the
unfortunate occurrence of family violence.
In Budget 2009, through the Violence Prevention
Initiative and the Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Newfoundland and
Labrador Government supported the Family Violence Intervention Court
with a total of $583,000. The court is a 12-month pilot project and an
evaluation of the court will take place upon its completion. I look
forward to watching the court grow and seeing the positive impact it has
upon our community.
2009 04 06 1:50 p.m.