Ministry of the Attorney General
Province Making the Criminal Justice System Faster and Fairer
Toronto, ON – Oct 30, 2017
Ontario is helping make the bail system faster and fairer, while balancing the need to protect the safety of victims and the public.
In December 2016, the Attorney General appointed three prominent bail experts to provide advice on a new Bail Directive. This bail advisory group consulted widely with the legal community, analyzed expert reports, Supreme Court decisions, and travelled to Northern Ontario to hear about the distinct concerns facing Northern and remote Indigenous communities.
With their input, the province has developed a new bail directive that will aim to reduce barriers faced by Indigenous and racialized communities at the bail stage, ensure low-risk and vulnerable individuals have access to the appropriate supports for safe releases, and speed up the bail process by:
- Emphasizing that bail recommendations should start with the least restrictive form of release (the “ladder principle”), and that having an accused person released with a surety while awaiting trial should be an exception
- Reinforcing that recommendations for conditions of release should be connected to both the circumstances of the accused and the facts of the case, while at the same time, meeting public safety concerns
- Suggesting ways to make the bail process more efficient and less time-consuming such as encouraging out-of-court surety approval processes, where sureties are required
- Encouraging the use of the Bail Verification and Supervision Program and Bail Beds Program where vulnerable, low-risk people can be safely released into the community with supervision instead of being detained while awaiting trial
- Highlighting the requirement to take into account the unique circumstances of Indigenous peoples when an accused person self-identifies as Métis, Inuit or First Nation
- Emphasizing the use of community based programs as alternatives to detention for mentally ill accused persons who come in contact with the law
- Recognizing the circumstances and barriers faced at the bail stage by vulnerable and disadvantaged accused, including those who are racialized and socioeconomically marginalized.
The updated Bail Directive is part of Ontario’s plan to enhance public safety by making it possible to resolve criminal cases faster and by making more supports and supervision available to vulnerable, low-risk individuals who come in contact with the law.
Improving Ontario’s criminal justice system is part of our plan to create fairness, keep communities safe, and help people in their everyday lives.
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