Day 1 of the Second NACJJ Meeting: Restorative juvenile justice and alternatives to deprivation of liberty in North America

2015 Nov 5

The Second Meeting of the North American Council for Juvenile Justice has dedicated its first day to tackling good practices in restorative juvenile justice, as well as alternatives to deprivation of liberty for children in conflict with the law in the North American region.

The first day started with a welcome address by Dale Elliott, Manager of the Youth Justice Strategic Policy and Planning Unit, Youth Justice Services Division, Ministry of Children and Youth Services of the Ontario Government. She kindly welcomed the audience to the Meeting and briefly touched upon the aims to achieve during the meeting. She praised the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO) for setting up the NACJJ as a forum where North-American countries can enhance their cooperation in the field of juvenile justice.

Following that, Cristina Goñi, Secretary-General of the IJJO, welcomed the audience and expressed her gratitude to Ontario’s Ministry of Children and Youth Services for their great collaboration in setting up the Second Meeting. Furthermore, the Illinois Juvenile Justice Initiative, Loyola University School of Law, and the Former Secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice were thanked for co-organizing the Second Meeting.

The first part of the day consisted of giving the participants an overview of the current situation of juvenile justice on the North-American region. Cecilia Anicama, Programme Specialist at the Office of the Special Rapporteur of the UN Secretary General on Violence Against Children addressed the audience with a presentation on 'Milestones of International mechanisms and Children Rights standards concerning Restorative Justice and alternatives to deprivation of liberty', giving an overview the current international situation.

Then, representatives of the United States of America, Canada and Mexico were given the chance to present how their respective countries have implemented effective restorative justice practices.

US restorative practices for children were introduced by George Timberlake, Chair of the National Coalition for Juvenile Justice. The two representatives from Mexico were Héctor Marcos Díaz Santana, General Director of Interinstitutional Coordination, Technical Secretariat of the Coordination Council for the Implementation of the Criminal Justice System, and Graciela Jasa, who gave a presentation on the evaluation of two restorative justice programmes with children.

Two Canadian representatives ended the morning sessions: Janet Briggs, Restorative Justice Manager of the Department of Justice in Nova Scotia and Barbara Tomporowski, Senior Policy Analyst of the Department of Justice in Saskatchewan. They explained the restorative justices practices in their respective provinces.

The afternoon sessions began with a report from the European Council on the 'European Model for Restorative Justice for Children and Young People', presented by Cristina Goñi. After that, Yvonne Adair and Paula Jack, experts on restorative juvenile justice, illustrated the development, implementation and outcomes of such practices in Northern Ireland.

Later, the focus of the meeting shifted towards making deprivation of liberty a measure of last resort. Ton Liefaard, professor at the University of Leiden, gave a presentation on alternatives to detention. This was followed by a round table discussion with representatives from the USA, Canada and Mexico. The United States were represented by Liane Rozzell, Senior Policy Associate of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Paula Kingston, Senior Counsel of the Department of Justice in Canada gave a Canadian perspective, whereas Ana Aguilar, Director of projects of the NGO Presunción de Inocencia, offered the Mexican point of view.

The final session of the first day focused on urgent emerging issues. Diane Geraghty, Professor director at the Civitas Law Center at Loyola School of Chicago, together with Elizabeth Clarke, president of the Juvenile Justice Initiative, gave a presentation that focused on young adults. Next, Patricia Puritz, founder and director of the National Juvenile Defender Center U.S., put the spotlight on a counsel for children.

The first day was concluded by Cédric Foussard, IJJO Director of International Affairs, Dale Elliott and Elizabeth Clarke, president of the Juvenile Justice Initiative. They thanked all the participants for their presence during the first day of the meeting and gave on overview of what to expect from the policy-oriented second day of the meeting.