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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 strategy, guided by an Expert Advisory Panel that includes some of the leading minds in the field of criminal justice, supports the work of local criminal court leaders across the province.
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.
Initially an aggressive four-year target was set to reduce by 30 per cent the provincial average number of appearances and days required to complete a criminal charge. For nearly 20 years these two statistics were on the rise. As a result of JOT, both are now going down.
In June 2012, a Metrics Table was created to look at the best ways to build on our achievements and measure progress moving forward, and report to the strategy’s Expert Advisory Panel. 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.
A case is defined as a charge or charges under the Criminal Code of Canada that relate to a common incident.
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:
Bench warrants are issued when an accused fails to appear in court. Bench warrant days measure the amount of time it takes for a charge to be brought back before the courts following the issuance of a bench warrant. If an accused has fled the jurisdiction, the bench warrant days distort the data, as the delay of proceedings would be caused by the absence of the accused rather than any inherent problems in the court system.
Separating bench warrant days from the data provides a more realistic assessment of the average time it takes to complete a criminal charge. It also gives local leaders more precise indications of where to focus efforts to improve the effectiveness of their court sites.