On March 17, 2015, judges, lawyers, members of Community Corrections, Victoria Police Department, health and social service agencies, and others met to celebrate 5 years of working together to provide a therapeutic approach to justice for some of Victoria’s most vulnerable people. Judge Adrian Brooks thanked everyone for their hard work with the Victoria Integrated Court (VIC) over the past 5 years.
VIC was launched in 2010 as the result of community-led initiatives – Victoria’s Street Crime Working Group and the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness. The community’s goals were:
to increase public safety by decreasing recidivism for substantive offences and by reducing harmful antisocial behaviour in the community
to have more effective sentencing through integrated case planning and intensive community supervision
to provide support for community teams
to decrease inappropriate use of emergency services
The Court sits one day a week to conduct bail and sentencing hearings. It works with existing community health, social, and justice services to address the needs of chronic offenders. By improving people’s access to services designed to alleviate their underlying problems, VIC can hold them accountable while providing the support needed to avoid re-offending.
For example, a person who has often appeared in Court for offences related to alcoholism recently asked to attend VIC to update the judge on his progress. A long battle with addiction had led this man to the point of drinking rubbing alcohol, mouthwash, hand sanitizer and cleaning solvents. His health was severely compromised. Victoria Police were rushing him to hospital daily after finding him unconscious in public. Everyone involved with VIC feared he was near death.
Now, his health is improving. He is sober, maintaining housing with supportive staff who are very fond of him, and is well-liked. Results like this motivate everyone involved with VIC, and indeed everyone working in the justice system.
In other news, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps visited VIC recently. She came to learn more about the Court’s work and tweeted her support afterwards.
VIC owes a great deal to the countless hours of their own time volunteered by Judges Ernest Quantz, Susan Wishart, Adrian Brooks, and Judicial Justice Brenda Edwards to its implementation and continuing success.
To learn more about VIC see Victoria Integrated Court and its annual reports on the B.C. Provincial Court Website.