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April 4, 2013

Ministers Clarify Misinformation on Budget Impacts for Justice

The Honourable Darin King, Minister of Justice, and the Honourable Tom Marshall, Attorney General, today corrected misinformation in the public domain concerning the impact of Budget 2013 on the justice system.

“Whether supplied by the Official Opposition or by members of the media, it is detrimental to everyone to have false information out there concerning the impact of this budget on the justice system,” said Minister King. “Misleading staff and the public only causes undue stress for those who are impacted and it is important that we ensure that the correct information is available.”

Minister King noted that with the exception of this year, the budget for the Department of Justice has increased every year since 2005-06 and that even with the reduction this year, government is still investing almost a quarter of a billion dollars in the provincial justice system.

“The budget for the Department of Justice has increased by 65 per cent since 2005-06 from $145 million to $239 million this year,” stated Minister King. “With policing alone, government has invested more than $920 million in the last 10 years and we have added 145 new officers to the system. The total annual policing budget has increased by approximately $50 million over that same time period.”

Minister King and Minister Marshall stressed that the Department of Justice will continue to ensure that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can access the justice system in a safe and fair manner.

“I have every confidence that prosecution and legal aid services in the province will continue to be provided effectively and efficiently,” said Minister Marshall. “I have assured the Director of Public Prosecutions that my door is always open for him to come to me with any concerns he might have with regards to caseloads or other matters. In the past, we have always had the ability to bring in additional resources for certain periods of time if it was warranted and that has not changed with Budget 2013.”

Please see the backgrounder below for additional corrected information pertaining to Budget 2013 impacts.

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Media contact:
Luke Joyce
Director of Communications
Department of Justice
709-729-6985, 725-4165

Correct Information Regarding the Impact of Budget 2013
on the Provincial Justice System

Crown Prosecutors
As of today (Thursday, April 4), there are 21 Crown attorneys employed at the St. John’s office and when the budget process is completed, there are expected to be 19 employed.

Weekend and Statutory Holiday (WASH) Court
As part of ongoing routine court operations, Sheriff’s Officers provide security for Weekend and Statutory Holiday (WASH) court. A policy was implemented in December 2011 whereby officers could voluntarily work the extra overtime shifts to try to avoid having to require officers to work weekends if they did not wish to do so. That policy has not changed with Budget 2013.

Electronic Monitoring Program
Out of the estimated 1,700 people in the province in the adult probation system, just 53 were participating in the Electronic Monitoring Program. While the program was beneficial, it was not core to the provision of effective service to clients.

Family Violence Intervention Court
The program was initiated as a pilot project in 2009. In the past few fiscal years, the number of people who have completed the program has decreased from 41 in 2010-11, to 39 in 2011-12 to just 21 in fiscal 2012-13. The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that any individuals currently engaged in the court process will be given the opportunity to finish their program.

2013 04 04                     6:30 p.m.

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