Red Deer Youth Justice Committee: providing 20 years of second chances

For 20 years, Red Deer Youth Justice Committee has been steering young people going down the wrong path in a better direction. Committee chairperson Gwen Philip, who has sat on the committee for 15 years, said it’s been years since members dealt mostly with youth charged with shoplifting.

For 20 years, Red Deer Youth Justice Committee has been steering young people going down the wrong path in a better direction.

Committee chairperson Gwen Philip, who has sat on the committee for 15 years, said it’s been years since members dealt mostly with youth charged with shoplifting.

“Now we are getting cases that are more difficult like break and enters, theft, assaults, mischief, possession of narcotics — a wide variety now,” said Philip, of Red Deer.

Despite the seriousness of the charges, the courts rightly see in the majority of these youth that they can turn their lives around, she said.

“Going through our system, it’s like getting a second chance. A second chance to figure out what’s going on in their life and how to improve it.”

Red Deer Youth Justice Committee is a group of volunteers heading an alternative measures program for youth age 12 to 17 who accept responsibility for the actions for which they have been charged.

Young offenders are usually given 90 days to complete their punishment called “consequences” which could consist of apology letters, community service, counselling or attending programs, essays or posters, a donation to charity, and financial restitution to the victim.

Between 50 to 100 youth deemed less likely to re-offend annually go before a panel made up of three committee members for an opportunity to avoid a criminal record.

This year the success rate for completing consequences has been over 90 per cent.

Philip said victims have the opportunity to get involved in the process but unfortunately most do not.

“A lot of victims don’t want to get involved. They know (youth) are going to have some kind of consequence and that for them is fulfillment enough.”

So it’s up to the committee to make youth realize the impact of their crimes.

“We try to get them to think of all the damage, heartache, that they’ve caused the victim. We put the youth in the victim’s spot.”

Philip said it’s also about listening to the youth and discussing better ways of dealing with their problems and improving their behaviour.

Peer pressure is often a factor so learning to think on their own is a must, she said.

“After we’ve talked to them for a little while they realize that we’re there to help them. We’re not there to be really critical of them. We’re there to change their lives.”

Having youth commit to their education is quite important for the committee.

“I met this person on the street a little while ago who told me just by us caring enough to keep track of them in school, and sending them to counselling, that their whole life is so much better and they’re really doing in their life. That’s nice to know,” Philip said.

“We are there for the youth to help them become better members of society, really, and make a success of themselves.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Red Deerians shop for exotic plants at spring plant sale

Exotic plants are popular at the Red Deer & District Garden Club’s… Continue reading

Central Albertans come together to end MS

Red Deer’s Bre Fitzpatrick has MS. The medication the 34-year-old is on… Continue reading

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

HIGH LEVEL, Alta. — Crews battling an enormous wildfire just outside the… Continue reading

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

OTTAWA — While most Canadians firmly back the Charter of Rights and… Continue reading

Red Deer stamp-collecting event a hit, local club expected to start in fall

Postage stamp-loving Red Deerians can expect to have a place to gather… Continue reading

WATCH: Cars, airplanes, motorcyles on display at Red Deer Airport

Cars, motorcycle and airplane enthusiasts united at the Red Deer Airport Sunday… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Bid to get D-Day beaches added to list of UN World Heritage Sites in limbo

OTTAWA — The beaches of Normandy, where the Allies stormed ashore to… Continue reading

Could this 20-year-old Montreal polyglot be Canada’s most multilingual student?

MONTREAL — Georges Awaad answers the phone with a polite “Hello,” but… Continue reading

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals have laid out their proposal for rules… Continue reading

Trump’s trophy day of sumo, golf and cheeseburgers in Japan

TOKYO — President Donald Trump presented a special U.S.-made trophy to the… Continue reading

Two dead, one seriously injured, following explosion in Calgary home’s garage

CALGARY — Police in Calgary say they believe a house fire where… Continue reading

Raptors fans spill onto the streets ahead of potentially historic game

Cars honked, exhilarated fans chanted and long lines formed outside bars and… Continue reading

Most Read