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Justice on Target (JOT) is the province’s strategy to improve the effectiveness of Ontario’s criminal justice system in a way that respects its integrity and protects the independent roles of justice participants.
The strategy has brought all justice participant groups together to identify issues, and design and implement local initiatives reduce criminal court delay. Judges, justices of the peace, Crown attorneys, Defence counsel, court staff, police, corrections, victim services, Legal Aid Ontario and others are working collaboratively to improve the effectiveness of the justice system.
The ultimate goal of the Justice on Target strategy is to promote continuous improvement in Ontario’s criminal courts.
Using the benchmarks as a "yardstick", the JOT Team worked with criminal court leaders to develop improvement goals.
The Bail Experts Table (BET) was established, in June 2012 to research leading practices and highlight opportunities to improve local and systemic bail practices.
The committee, co-chaired by Regional Senior Justice of the Peace Bridget Forster and JOT Director Lori Montague, includes representation of all sectors of the criminal justice system with a stake in the bail phase.
The group met frequently, travelled to various locations across the province and consulted with a wide variety of organizations.
Implementation continues with a collaborative and phased approach across the criminal justice sector. While not all of the recommendations fall within the purview of the Ministry of the Attorney General, the JOT Team is working closely with other justice participant groups and progress has been made.
The Ontario Court of Justice has taken steps to establish local bail committees or ensure that bail is a regular agenda item at all of the province's criminal courts.
Some recommendations require more planning and this work is also already underway in several areas, such as expanded use of video for bail appearances and enhanced channels of communication between Defence Counsel and Duty Counsel to in-custody clients to ensure that bail hearings can be productive.
In June 2012, a Metrics Table was created to look at the best ways to build on our achievements and measure progress moving forward. The Metrics Table benefited from the experience and expertise of all sectors of the justice system including the judiciary, defence bar, corrections, Crown attorneys, court services, Legal Aid Ontario and others.
Consultations involving all justice participant groups established a benchmark number of court appearances and days depending on a case's complexity. "Case complexity" is a term developed and used by Justice on Target for this purpose.
A case is defined as a charge or charges under the Criminal Code of Canada that relate to a common incident.
"Case complexity" is a term developed and used by Justice on Target as a tool to establish time to disposition benchmarks based on the type of charges on a case. The people who work in Ontario's criminal courts every day were asked for their views on the number of appearances and days by which different types of case could generally be completed. They provided feedback on which charges should fall into each of three categories:
Regional criminal court leaders are engaged to determine goals for each site within their respective regions. In this way, all justice participants are supported as they build on past achievements and move cases through the system efficiently and effectively.
Benchmark goals allow for a common outlook on how progress is measured.