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Diversion program available to some youth in Toronto

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Residents of the Toronto Greater Area who have teenagers are well aware that they do not always make the best choices. Sometimes their decisions could result in minor mishaps. Other times however, they could lead to criminal charges. The consequences tied to a conviction could dramatically impact—even ruin— their young lives, all because of a stupid mistake. Recognizing this approach could do more harm than good, the city of Toronto recently rolled out a new program designed to give young offenders a second chance.

Under the program, alternatives to custody and busy courts are provided to some young people. The ultimate goal of the diversion program is to reduce recidivism. Those who take part in the program could receive help with things such as:

  • Finding a job
  • Kicking a drug habit
  • Addressing mental health issues
  • Recognizing the impact of their actions

To be eligible for the program the young person must meet certain criteria. In addition to being under the age of 18, they must also have allegedly been involved in a minor offence. If they are suspected of committing a minor assault, mischief, shoplifting or minor drug possession, the investigating officer will make the decision whether a diversion program would be best.

This is not the first time that a community in Ontario has tried this approach. In one previous pilot program fewer than 4 percent of the juveniles who participated, reoffended during the course of the program.

Young people have their entire future ahead of them. Because of this, when a young person is accused of committing a crime, it is important that steps are taken to keep that future bright. Contacting a lawyer is the first step.

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