discrimination in the Justice System

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discrimination in the Justice System

I am trying to consider how I might estimate the costs of the breaches of recognizance, breaches of probation and failure to attend charges that my often not lucid clients are charged with as a result of the lack of accommodation for the cognitive perceptual impairments.

My clients are often not "orientated in time and space". As a result they miss many appointments. As a result they also often go to the emergency ward when they can't figure out how to handle an issue in their lives

The Drummond report gave us a costing outline for the hospital Emergency room visits. It is possible to calculate  the cost of each individuals use of healthcare services by tracking an OHIP number.

However  no one has tried to estimate the costs my clients' disabilities within the justice system.

I am trying to think about what I might be able to cost. My First step is to try to estimate how many employees of the overall justice system are involved with the first steps of a single breach.

 I am calling this exercise:

 How many people does it take to administer a bench warrant?

 Bench warrants are issued when an individual has not obeyed the court ordered appearance. The most common are failing to attend  court or probation and failing to comply with the conditions of a recognizance bail. The bench warrant is issued to allow the police to arrest the individual and bring them to the court.

 The administration of criminal charges require that  3  separate items  are present  at the same time; 

  • the accused  person,  
  • a set of papers  that established the official charges and track what has occurred in court on each appearance.called "the information"
  •  A  paper file of  copies of all the  evidence administrative correspondence concerning the charge listed on the information.  This is called the brief

 The  criminal justice administrative process tracks each of these items separately.

First Step: In the Court House tracking the Information and the Brief

    1.  To the best of my understanding  below it is an outline of the administration of the 1st steps of a bench warrant. The initial issuance of a bench warrant for a breach is undertaken in open court. At Old  City Hall the courtroom is staffed by between eight and 10 individuals, Including the Judge or JP, the crown, duty counsel,  clerks , bailiffs, court reporters, court officers and additional staff.
    2.  The  warrant is typed  and sign by the Judge. it is  attached to the information.  
    3.  All the information's are taken to the court support office.   Court support staff input the information concerning the administration of the charges; including return date or bench warrant into the icon system.  At a minimum at least one person is needed to input this information.
    4. The informations are  put  in a box and taken to the Clerks office.   All the informations   for one courthouse are filed in the clerk's office. At old City Hall the information's are stored by courtroom. At a minimum the process of filing the information's takes 3 people.
    5. The criminal  charges briefs  are taken by a court officer to the police liaison office within the courthouse. If a bench warrant has been issued  police liaison office staff enter the new charge and the bench warrant into the CPIC ( Canadian police information Center)  system.  An electronic notice is posted  to the police service that the individual should be arrested.  The brief including information on the bench warrant is filed and kept in the police liaison office. I believe  this part of the administrative process requires  the labour  of at least 4 additional individuals.

       Total in Courthouse: minimum 18 people to administer the first step of the bench warrant.
       Second Step: Rearresting the accused
        The  warrant for the individuals arrest has been posted to CPIC. Individual accused  are either rearrested when they are stopped by police for some other reason, if they voluntarily surrender at a police station or if police are sent to  arrest the accused at his/her address. The most common form of arrest is when an individual is stopped by police for an unrelated reason.  For the purposes of this exercise I will try to count the number of individuals who are required in order to administer one person's arrest and return to the courthouse

    1.  An individual is stopped by police officers  who check their name on CPIC and find the recorded bench warrant. The individual is arrested. The police officers call their station and inform  their dispatch that the accused has been arrested and is being transported to the police division. This requires a minimum of 3 people, (the pair of officers in the car and one person in dispatch).
    2. The arrested person is brought into the building by the arresting officers. In the building they are transferred through booking to the cells. I believe this process takes a minimum of four people, The functions include the booker, the data entry, the initial interview, the physical transfer from one room to another to the cells.  Minimum 4
    3. The individual will be guarded in the cells by at least two guards who will interact with them briefly. As most clients are in custody for at least one meal there  food workers are needed. For this costing let us  assume 6 food related workers, including cooking, delivering, and cleaning up after meals minimum 8
    4. Some clients are only held overnight and are taken to court for Bail the next day. Other clients are held in detention. If they are held in detention there are additional officers, let us assume two, and possibly one duty counsel who will directly interact with them. Minimum 3
    5. Eventually this individual needs to be transported to a court room for a bail hearing.  At the Division  there needs to be a person who is in charge of the cells to track what happenes  to each accused,  a sergeant to oversee the guards, least two guards  to put the accused in a wagon to be driven to the courthouse and in the transport there are  at least two additional officers. This totals 6  more individuals.

     Total for step 2 at the police division: minimum 24  individuals.
 Step 3:  Bringing the Accused, the Information and the Brief to the court room
 A. Bringing the accused to the courtroom

    1. The accused are brought into the building and transferred to the court officers. The courthouse detention cells receives a list of every  accused who is expected to arrive each day.  That information is  also forwarded to the courthouse police liaison  office.  In the detention cells this must require at least one person to receive and centralize the expected intake list.
    2.  When individual accused are brought from the divisions to the courthouse each accused is recorded, their paperwork is checked, they are brought to the holding cells and they are guarded in the holding cells. At a minimum  this must require of 5 different people. The number is probably higher.  There are probably more guards and if an individual is provided any food it must be prepared, delivered and garbage must be collected.
    3.  While an individual is in the courthouse cells  they should be interviewed by a duty counsel. 1 more person. 
    4. When an individual is needed in court they need to be brought to the court. This requires  at least a sergeant to allocate staff and another court officer to bring the individual to the  courtroom or the cells associated with the court room. If there are cells associated with the courtroom there must be at least 3 officers to guard the accused before they  enter the courtroom.total minimum 2 or 5

Minimum to bring an accused to a courtroom: 9 or 12 people
B)  Bringing the information to the courtroom.

    1.  The court liaison office receives both an electronic confirmation that the individuals who have  been arrested  by the different divisions who will be transferred to the courthouse that day.  This must require at least one person to receive the list.
    2.  The icon system needs to be updated and the names of the accused added to the appropriate courthouse lists. This requires a minimum of one person.
    3.  A handwritten list of all the individual accused who are expected in court that day is delivered by hand to the clerk's office. This requires at least 2 people.
    4.  A clerk in the central office will retrieve each information and put it in the box for the appropriate courtroom. Minimum 1
    5.  The box will be taken by a court clerk  to the appropriate courtroom. Commonly the same clerk stays in that courtroom.

    B. 1 Female Accused additions

    1.  If the accused is female  in Toronto the process will be different.  All female accused  who are in custody are brought for bail hearings at College Park.
    2.  This means that they must be transported to  the College Park courts
    3.  This also means that their informations  must be transported to the College Park courts.
    4.  This means that each courthouse clerks office couriers these information each day to College Park.
    5.  At a minimum, including the need for additional transportation staff, a courier to take the information to College Park and at least 2  additional clerks to record and deliver those informations  to the female bail court I estimate this would require an additional 6 people.

 Total to bring the informations to court minimums. Male accused 4 persons,  female accused 9 persons
C) Bringing the Briefs to Court

  1.   The briefs associated with each accused who has an bench warranted are kept in the police liaison office. When an individual has been arrested the police liaison office receives the notice of their arrest and of their expected arrival at a particular courthouse from the divisions.  Each  brief needs to be retrieved from the files,  allocated in bundles for the appropriate court rooms  and delivered to those courtrooms.
  2.  At a minimum this requires 3 people, someone to coordinate the process, someone to collect and bundled each brief and someone to deliver those briefs to each courtroom.

  Minimum to bring the briefs to the courtroom : 3 people
D) First Appearance in the Courtroom: Bail  

  1. The court is staffed by 8 to 10 individuals. If the client needs to be reviewed by the bail program then there are and at least two additional people who will work on this 
    1.  Each  Baill courtroom is staffed by   a minimum of 11 individuals.This includes the JP, court reporter, 2 clerks, 2 duty counsels, 2 crowns and 3 court officers.
    2.  For the purposes of this exercise I will not try to account for the number of people needed for a bail process; including the question of additional duty counsel and  bail program  individuals.  Nor will  this exercise tried to calculate the  of additional  people needed  for courtrooms that have separate holding cells.

     Minimum  administrative personnel needed for 1st bail appearance:  11 people
 Adding up all of the minimums   79 people are needed to administer the 1st steps of a bench warrant for male accused  who appears in a courtroom that is attached to the courthouse cells. 88  individuals are needed to administer the 1st step of a bench warrant for a female accused. While a minimum of 83 people are needed to administer the 1st steps of a bench warrant for a male accused was held in cells that are separated in the courthouse from the main detention area

 That's a lot of people. It seems to me that it would be  cost-effective to consider ways of assisting accused with cognitive and perceptual impairments to get to court.


Issues Pages: 
Francesca Allan

shartal@rogers.com wrote:

However  no one has tried to estimate the costs my clients' disabilities within the justice system.

I'm not sure what you're after here. Would you rather have the disabled dumped into the hospital system? Many accused would rather deal with the justice system and that's their right. NCRMD isn't some kind of deal. It's a ticket to an indefinite sentence to forced drugging on a psych ward.


What we are trying to get is a peer accompaniment program funded by the AG. Currently most of my client depend on either me or their social workers to get them to court. The AG already pays for translators. It seems reasonable to demand the AG hire individuals, we are proposing peer survivors, to help clients get to Court. In Ontario the Ministry of health is funding peer accompaniment to help people get to doctors. We think the AG should do the same. overall my work is focused on keeping my clients out of hospital , out of prison, insuring that they get disability benefits and fighting evictions. I hold my office hours in shelters and drop in centres.


Would it be beneficial to seek out youth/justice studies or nursing professors (or a similar field ie. sociology, social work) to see if there is previoius work on this? I agree there is a huge cost, and there are always studies being done one topics like these.  Maybe they can point you in the right direction? I know i've read about youth experiencing a lot of discrimination within the justice system, but I haven't read anything specific. If you find anything, please post! Smile

Franscesca, I agree that it is a client's right to access a hospital if they need. However maybe the point is that if the justice system had the right kind of service, and was able to appropriately support clients, the justice system could be more helpful, and reduce the impact on the healthcare system.


I heard recently -- will try to remember where -- that there is data reflecting the high proportion of excess mental health admissions directly linked to insecure housing status. As pointed out elsewhere, the Drummond report in Ontario puts the cost of this human misery in dollars and cents: some high proportion of 80% (the cost of the complex medical cases, like these) of the 30% of the total provincial budget spent on health care. In addition to this, a very high percentage of community policing hours are spent dealing with overt mental health crises, whether or not they lead to admissions; this represents another huge chunk of our tax dollars. And that doesn't even take into account the direct and indirect costs of crime associated with insecure housing.

So even from a strictly financial analysis, public support of adequate and sufficient housing makes sense. Whether that should be limited to only the "deserving" poor (per discussion in another thread) is debatable. For one thing, implementing those value judgments consumes a third of the money in the system, I have heard. There is also a huge, measurable human cost, in self-image and capacity, paid by the recipients of benefits linked to disability, with further cascading financial costs.

This is another example of how illogical, ideological public policy choices intended to punish the poor end up costing taxpayers much more.

Sarah, do the John Howard or Elizabeth Fry Societies provide any kind of assistance like this? I fully agree that it should be a paid for, public service; but if so, perhaps this would help to support that this is not necessarily a specialized, professional service.

NB I also heard that the OBA is instituting a program to improve access to justice for those with mental health issues.

Could the clinics help with this?


ETA: sorry, some of this is in reply to commentary, as it turns out, in another thread! - comes from trying to use a phone instead of a real computer