A different approach to criminal justice is coming to Kelowna.
On May 6, Kelowna will be home to the B.C. Provincial Court’s third integrated court, joining the Victoria Integrated Court and Vancouver’s Downtown Community Court.
The Kelowna Integrated Court will focus on offenders struggling with addiction, mental health issues or homelessness.
Integrated courts, also known as community courts, seek to reduce crime and improve public safety by uniting health and social services with the justice system to address the causes of criminal behaviour. It is not a trial court but eligible people may have bail hearings or plead guilty and be sentenced there.
“The goal of an integrated community court is to address gaps in the traditional court approach for people whose interactions with the criminal justice system are a result of their substance use, mental health or housing challenges,” said the Honorable Geoffrey Barrow, a retired BC Supreme Court judge, who co-chaired the local advisory committee.
“The court seeks to do that by connecting individuals with the supports they need in the community and by monitoring their circumstances while they are subject to community supervision.”
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