Ontario Attorney General John Gerretsen has announced he will extend the Justice on Target program beyond June, despite ministry data showing the program is having mixed results in some of the province’s criminal courts.
The Ministry of the Attorney General created Justice on Target in June 2008. It was designed to reduce by 30 per cet the provincial average of the number of days and appearances required to complete a criminal case. The program also made criminal court statistics since 2000 publically available for the first time.
Today, every criminal court in the province is taking part in the program and an expert advisory panel has been set up to make recommendations to the province about ways to reach the program’s goals.
As for the reason behind the extension, a quick chat with Gerretsen often turns to talks of the Justice on Target program and its goals.
Gerretsen says the program is working well, he is open to recommendations, and is committed to “making sure all Ontarians can not only access justice, but can do so in a timely way.”
But while the program has seen success, a look at the ministry’s publicly available data shows the results are often mixed.
At the 1000 Finch Ave. courthouse in Toronto, for example, the average days to disposition between January 2008 and December 2008 were 236. Between January 2011 and December 2011, that number had increased to 269. The average appearances to disposition remained relatively flat, decreasing slightly from 9.8 to 9.0 during that same time period. The courthouse implemented the program in November 2008, according to publicly available data.
Similarly, at the Ontario Court of Justice in Milton, the average days to disposition between July 2009 and June 2010 were 252. Between January 2011 and December 2011, that number increased to 258. The average appearances to disposition remained flat at 9.3. The program began relatively late — in September 2010 — at the courthouse, the data shows.
Provincially, the data on a larger scale shows during the first wave of the program’s roll out between November and December 2008, average appearances decreased by 10.7 per cent, while average days to disposition increased by 18.2 per cent.
By wave five between December 2009 and March 2010, when all targeted courthouse in the province became involved in the program, average appearances decreased by an average of 5.6 per cent, while average days to disposition increased by 5.3 per cent.
According to the ministry, the possible reasons behind the mixed results may include significantly large cases making their way through court and cases where more than one charge is laid against the same person or a transfer of charges takes place between communities.
The final data for the 12-month period of July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 will be available in early September.
For more on what’s causing mixed results in province’s criminal courts, see the July 2 edition of Law Times.