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New law for young offenders

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

Quttiktuq Rebekah Uqi Williams questioned Justice Minister Paul Okalik about the effects on Nunavummiut of the new Youth Criminal Justice Act. The new act was given royal assent on Feb. 19.

“In some places we had some concerns with the provisions,” Okalik said. “But we like the act and we like the intent of it because it is trying to support the youth of Nunavut.”

The act stipulates that all communities must have at least one probation officer, but Nunavut has only nine officers. “The new act will be implemented next year in April 2003. There will have to be probation officers in all the communities by that time and they will have to work with young people closely at the community level,” Okalik said.

“In looking at Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, we never had prisons and we don’t like to see young people being incarcerated. So we do like the act. But it is a fact that we will have to get additional staff and we have to start planning for that.”

Okalik met with the federal minister of justice, Martin Cauchon, last month. He discussed the need for increased funding and received support from the federal minister, but no immediate committment of increase funds.

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