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Province supports Bail Beds program

Posted in: News

Several special guests were at Eby Village on Monday, March 27, 2017, when Attorney General Yasir Naqvi and Kitchener-Centre MPP Daiene Vernile made a funding announcement to support important work taking place at the Charles Street Men’s Shelter.

Naqvi announced funding to provide support for 10 bail beds at House of Friendship. The funding will be used to provide additional support to the men staying at the shelter who are also working their way through the criminal justice system.

Executive director John Neufeld noted that on average, 55 per cent of the individuals released from custody into the Waterloo Region Bail Program are released directly to shelter. Currently the Charles Street Men’s Shelter, at House of Friendship, receives the largest proportion of referrals.

“At House of Friendship, we say that charity is sharing food at the table; justice is having a seat at the table,” said Neufeld.

The funding, while not providing any additional beds above the current 51-bed capacity of the shelter, will allow for more staff time and involvement with residents at the shelter who are also dealing with the criminal justice system.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to partner with the province in piloting the Bail Beds program in Waterloo Region,” said Neufeld. “This program, with its opportunity to provide enhanced services and support for vulnerable individuals who come into contact with the law, allows us to build on what we are already doing. By creating a stronger support system through this partnership, individuals will achieve stability and belonging in the community, and decrease recidivism for the long-term success of each individual.”

The announcement was part of a larger plan to improve the provincial criminal justice system, with an aim to make the system faster and fairer by implementing programs to help reduce time-to-trial and improve the bail system in Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph.

The province is:

·        Providing funding for 10 bail beds at House of Friendship;

·        Hiring one new dedicated bail vettor Crown Attorney in Kitchener-Watelroo to facilitate faster bail decisions and early resolutions;

·        Assigning one new duty counsel bail coordinator to the Kitchener courthouse, to help expedite the bail process and ensure meaningful decisions are made;

·        Enhancing the existing Bail Verification and Supervision Program provided by the Waterloo Region Bail Program in Kitchener-Waterloo by increasing eligibility for services and enhancing support for mental health clients;

·        Expanding the Bail Verification and Supervision Program to Guelph to provide supervision to low-risk individuals who have been released on bail.

In addition, a new judge will be assigned to Kitchener, as previously announced in December 2016.

“Ontario’s criminal justice system must work to protect the interests of all people – victims, the public and the accused – and keep our communities safe,” said Naqvi. “We are working on all fronts to ensure that cases get to court faster and make our criminal justice system fairer. Our investments here in Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph will help make it possible for vulnerable, low-risk people to be safely released in the community with the supervision and support they need.”

 

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