Access to Justice Week Highlight – Putting the Public First in A2J Initiatives

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a2jbuttonBy Brea Lowenberger
Access To Justice Coordinator
University of Saskatchewan, College of Law

Monday, October 24th is the launch of the Architects of Justice Program Architects of Justice is an initiative that increases public participation in the development of access to justice solutions.  It was created in Ontario by the Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG).

The Saskatchewan Access to Justice Coordinator is replicating the program to ask people about the justice system in our province.  We want to know what the public thinks.  Is it working?  How can it be improved? 

The Just Rights student group at the College of Law will support the launch of the program – the student volunteers will engage with the community on Monday, October 24th to collect evidence that will enhance access to justice in Saskatchewan. A web link to the Architects of Justice survey is provided below, so that members of the public from across the province can contribute to access to justice solutions.

Please accept our invitation to imagine the justice system of the future.  Participate as an Architect of Justice here.

To receive more information about the Architects of Justice program as it unfolds, including updates with results of the survey, please sign up for the Saskatchewan Access to Justice Bulletin.

We would also like to highlight other programs/initiatives that  ‘put the public first’:

a2jweek7Release of “Rehabilitative Alternatives to Incarceration: a Handbook of Community and Government Programs in Saskatchewan” (via CLASSIC Systemic Initiatives Program (SIP))

CLASSIC’s Systemic Initiatives Program (SIP) is pleased to release “Rehabilitative Alternatives to Incarceration: a Handbook of Community and Government Programs in Saskatchewan”, which identifies rehabilitative program options across Saskatchewan for individuals in conflict with the law. The purpose of the Handbook is to increase awareness about community and government resources that provide alternatives to custodial sentences, particularly for Indigenous peoples. The ultimate aim is to reduce the representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system by providing programming alternatives that address criminogenic factors and promote healing in the lives of Indigenous people, their families and communities.

View the Handbook on the CLASSIC website under “Community Resources”.

a2jweek8Saskatchewan Provincial Court Therapeutic Courts

Therapeutic Courts take a problem-solving approach to justice. They address the social and personal issues – such a poverty, addiction, mental illness and abuse – underlying or causing a person’s criminal behaviour. Saskatchewan’s Provincial Court has established several therapeutic courts in recent years:

Please see the Courts of Saskatchewan website for more information. Please also see our latest issue of the Benchers’ Digest at page 4 for a profile on therapeutic justice, “Innovative Approaches to Justice: Q & A with the Honourable Judge C.C. Toth”.

a2jweek9Saskatchewan Court of Appeal Guidebooks for Self-Represented Litigants

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal created self-help Guidebooks for self-represented litigants. The Guidebooks are available on the Courts of Saskatchewan website and include:

a2jweek10Essential Voices Program 

The Essential Voices program brings the voice of lived experience into conversation with policy and programming. The program is important in improving access to justice for Saskatchewan residents, as it recognizes the coming together of two strong stories: when someone with “lived experience’ of the issues with the justice system has a voice and a paid role in decision-making for policy, programming, or services.  Learn more about the Essential Voices Program.

Putting the Public First: PLEA, Libraries, and Access to Legal Information Project 

As part of a project on “The Role of Legal Information Providers in Promoting Access to Justice”, a one-day intersectional planning meeting was held at the College of Law on September 12, 2016. The meeting was hosted by project partners from the College of Law, Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan (PLEA), Saskatoon Public Library, the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library, and the University Library. Those who were invited to the meeting included, among others, library representatives from urban, rural, and remote areas of Saskatchewan in order to start identifying their and their patrons’ legal information needs and discussing what role libraries, with PLEA’s support, might play in improving access to legal information. For more details, please see the College of Law website. Please also stay tuned to Legal Sourcery for future updates on this project.

Do you or does your organization work on “putting the public first” in access to justice initiatives?  Post a web link, a picture, etc. of the initiative or resource on social media using the hash-tag #SKA2J2016 or contact the Access to Justice Coordinator, Brea Lowenberger at b.lowenberger@usask.ca.

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