The Challenges of Youth Justice in Rural and Isolated Areas in Canada

7. Solutions

There was no dearth of suggestions put forward by respondents to address the challenges and barriers facing the youth justice system in rural and isolated areas. It should be noted that many, but not all, suggestions involve the infusion of financial, human and other resources, and may not apply in all provinces.

Suggestions for improvement to the youth justice system include:

  • Various federal ministries and provincial and territorial levels of these ministries including education, health, housing etc., work together to put a plan in place to address the needs of youth in rural and isolated areas. Working together would include the coordination of funding across ministries so issues can be identified and given priority, and programs can be developed, implemented and be adequately funded. It should also include planning so the most appropriate resources and services can be implemented;
  • Better partnerships between existing criminal justice services and communities around community development and other issues;
  • Rehabilitative programs, such as substance abuse and psychological and psychiatric services, should be located in home communities;
  • Education for young persons and communities to better understand the judicial process and how it relates to them;
  • On-going training on youth issues for resource personnel and community members;
  • Ensuring available staff, programming and resources are in place and are systematically monitored and evaluated;
  • Use of telephone bail;
  • More agreements for use of satellite services;
  • Better selection and risk assessment tools to ensure that only those young persons who commit the most serious offences and have the greatest needs go through the formal system;
  • Tracking how youth workers spend their time;
  • More staff positions for probation and other justice services;
  • Greater family involvement and parental education about parenting and needs of youth;
  • Increased emphasis on prevention - communities and families need to learn that courts and schools alone cannot fix problems;
  • Streamline and simplify the process for getting new funding; strictly oversee where money is going once granted;
  • Money to compensate local people for time in order to encourage participation;
  • Funding for outreach services if the youth leaves custody, to provide for short visits before release, for working with family and school, and for short follow-up in communities;
  • Travel allowances for family members to visit children in programs;
  • Travel allowances for victims to access services;
  • Greater use of community justice committees (CJCs) that integrate crime prevention into their mandates and have responsibility for both offenders and victims;
  • CJCs should remain community-based, not government-controlled, but need to improve community development skills and provide workers with more training;
  • Hold joint regional conferences of local council and CJC members to get councils to stop concentrating on "garbage collection and water delivery" and start realizing "these are your kids;"
  • A jail in each region of Nunavut so people do not have to go far away;
  • Hire more Elders to take youth on the land in Aboriginal areas;
  • Base justice initiatives on the needs of each individual community and not on a "cookie-cutter" approach;
  • Probation officers to conduct conferences in all geographic areas;
  • Adequate training for probation officers to act as facilitators;
  • Uniform accreditation or accountability for community agencies doing restorative justice within and across jurisdictions; accountability should include ISSP orders;
  • Adoption of the new Nunavut model for dedicated probation services in isolated areas, in preference to the "social worker jack of all trades" model.


  • Auger, D., Doob, A. and P. Driben. (1992). "Crime and Control in Three Nishnawbe-Aski Communities: An Exploratory Investigation." Canadian Journal of Criminology , 34 (3-4):317-338.

  • Bouchard, Serge, and Clotilde Pelletier. (1986). Justice in Question: Evaluation of Projects to Create a Local Judiciary in Povungnituk (Northern Quebec). Quebec : Department of Justice.

  • Bond-Maupin, Lisa. J. (1992). American Indians, Imposed Law and Self-Determination: Juvenile Justice in Gila River Indian Community . Ph.D. Dissertation, Arizona State University .

  • Bond-Maupin, Lisa J., and James R. Maupin. (1998). "Juvenile Justice Decision-making in a Rural Hispanic Community." Journal of Criminal Justice , 26 (5):373-384.

  • Brown, D.K. (1980). "Economics of Concern and Compassion - Applications to Rural Justice." Juvenile Justice in Rural America. Jankovic , J., R.K. Green, and S.D. Cronk ( eds ). University of Tennessee , School of Social Work . Washington : US. Department of Justice. p. 131-141.

  • Clairmont , Don. (1999). Review of Justice System Issues Relevant to Nunavut . Ottawa : Research and Statistics Division, Department of Justice. Technical Report 1999-4E.

  • Condon, R. G. (1992). "Changing patterns of conflict management and aggression among Inuit youth in the Canadian Arctic." Native Studies Review , 8 (2):35-49.

  • Dahl, S. (1980). "The Delinquent Youth in the Rural Area." Juvenile Justice in Rural America. Jankovic, J., R.K. Green, and S.D. Cronk ( eds ). University of Tennessee , School of Social Work . Washington : US. Department of Justice, p. 84-91.

  • DeJames , J. (1980). "Issues in Rural Juvenile Justice." Juvenile Justice in Rural America. Jankovic, J., R.K. Green, and S.D. Cronk ( eds ). University of Tennessee , School of Social Work . Washington : US. Department of Justice. p. 4-15.

  • Doherty, J. (1999). Aboriginal People and the Criminal Justice System: Comparison of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Contact with the South Australian Juvenile Justice System . 1997. Adelaide , AUS: Office of Crime Statistics.

  • Evans, John, Robert Hann, and Joan Nuffield. (1998). Crime and Corrections in the Northwest Territories. Prepared for The Honourable Goo Arlooktoo, Minister of Justice and The Honourable Kelvin Ng, Minister of Health and Social Services. Government of the Northwest Territories .

  • Feld , Barry. (1991). "Justice by Geography: Urban, Suburban and Rural Variations in Juvenile Justice Administration," The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 82 (1):156-210.

  • Galway , B., and J. Hudson. (1996). Restorative Justice: International Perspectives. Monsey , NY : Criminal Justice Press.

  • Griffiths, C., Zellerer, E., Wood, D., and G. Saville . (1995 ). Crime, Law and Justice Among the Inuit in Baffin Region N.W.T., Canada . Burnaby , BC : Criminology Research Centre, Simon Fraser University .

  • Hagan, J. (1977). "Criminal Justice in Rural and Urban Communities: A Study of the Bureaucratization of Justice." Social Forces , 55 (3):597-612.

  • Junger-Tas , Josine. (1983). Police Diversion in the Netherlands . The Hague: Research and Documentation Centre, Ministry of Justice.

  • King, R., and N.E. Schafer. (1998). "Criminal Defense in Rural Alaska ," Alaska Justice Forum , 15 (1). Spring.

  • Kueneman , R., Linden , R.; and R. Kosmick. (1992). "Juvenile Justice in Rural and Northern Manitoba ." Canadian Journal of Criminology, 34 (3-4):435-460.

  • La Prairie, C. (1991). Justice for the Cree: Communities, Crime and Order. Nemaska: Cree Regional Authority.

  • La Prairie, C. (1992). Exploring the Boundaries of Justice: Justice Development in the Yukon. Whitehorse , YT : Yukon Justice.

  • La Prairie, C. (1992a). The Use of Detention for Aboriginal Offenders in East James Bay Courts." Canadian Penology: Advanced Perspectives and Research . Kevin McCormick and Livy Visano ( eds .). Toronto : Canadian Scholars Press.

  • La Prairie, Carol. (1997). Seeking Change: Justice Development in LaLoche . Saskatchewan : Saskatchewan Justice.

  • Maupin, James R., and Bond-Maupin, Lisa J. (1999). "Detention Decision-Making in a Predominately Hispanic Region: Rural and Non-rural Differences." Juvenile and Family Court Journal , 50 (3):11-23.

  • National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders. (1997). Hanging Around the Bus Stop: Youth Crime and Young Offenders in Rural Areas. National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders. United Kingdom .

  • Neilson, Marianne. (2000). Alberta Aboriginal Youth Justice Committees and Restorative Justice Issues." Yearbook of New Zealand Jurisprudence , 4 (1):21-41.

  • Parry, David L. (1987). An Analysis of Offense Patterns, Recidivism and Emergency Detention of Children Accused of Delinquent Acts in Alaskain 1985 . Anchorage , AK : School of Justice , University of Alaska .

  • Parry, David L. (1996). Alaska Natives, Juvenile Delinquency and "Bush Justice." State University of New York . Ph.D. Dissertation, Ann Arbor , Ml: University Microfilms International.

  • Parry, David L. (1996a). "Race and Community in Juvenile Justice Decision-Making: Native Americans and the Convergence of Minority Status and Rural Residence." Social Pathology , 29 (2):120-153.

  • Pawlak , E.J. (1980). "Juvenile Justice - A Rural-Urban Comparison." Juvenile Justice in Rural America. Jankovic, J., R.K. Green, and S.D. Cronk ( eds ). University of Tennessee , School of Social Work . Washington : US. Department of Justice. p.37-49 .

  • Schafer, N.E., R. Curtis, and C. Atwell. (1997). Disproportionate Representation of Minorities in the Alaska Juvenile Justice System. Anchorage , AK : Justice Centre, University of Alaska .

  • Schafer, N.E. (1998). A Comparison by Race of Juvenile Referrals in Alaska; Phase II Report. Anchorage , AK : Justice Centre, University of Alaska .

  • Wright, L.E. (1997). "Juvenile Crime in Rural Areas." Justice System Journal , 19 (3):355-364.

  • Zion , James W. (1982). Harmony among the People: Torts and Indian Courts. Paper prepared for the National American Indian Court Judges Association seminar, Gallup , New Mexico .

Appendix A: Interview Questions

  1. Can you tell me what you consider the three most serious challenges/barriers to implementing and delivering a youth justice system in rural and/or isolated areas?
  2. Are these problems of equal seriousness? If not, which is most serious? Explain.
  3. How do these problems affect the operation of the youth justice system? (e.g., bail hearings; pre-trial detention; availability of defense counsel, esp. for trial; availability of diversion program options; sentencing options)
  4. How do these problems affect individual offenders and victims? (reintegration and rehabilitation of offenders; identifying and responding to needs of victims)
  5. Are these problems the same in all rural and/or isolated communities? If not, what factors account for the differences?
  6. Do you think the new YCJA will address these problems? If not, why not?
  7. What do you see as possible solutions to the problems you have identified?


[1] There is an interesting anomaly in Nunavut , where probation is the great success story and attracts all the most qualified workers but where other areas suffer a serious dearth of good workers.

[2] A bail/pre-trial service was established in Newfoundland last year but it is only offered in St. John's .

[3] There are now some 98 youth justice committees with 1300 volunteers across Alberta .

Date modified: