The Manitoba government has released its Criminal Justice System Modernization Strategy.

Justice Minister Heather Stefanson made the announcement Friday afternoon in West Broadway, at the Onashowewin Justice Circle.

Stefanson the goal of the strategy is to be tough on crime, but also tough on the causes of crime.

The strategy calls for a diversion program to help keep less serious offenders out of the courts.

The strategy will also involve:

  • Addressing mental health and addictions challenges that contribute to crime.
  • Focusing resources on the most serious criminal cases by increasing the appropriate use of direct indictments and deciding whether a matter should proceed in the traditional justice system, or if would be better handled through other means.
  • Maximizing the use of restorative justice programs that hold less serious offenders accountable to victims.
  • Responsibly reintegrating offenders back into society through a combination of intensive probation supervision and community supports to make sure offenders have employment, education, and housing opportunities upon their release.

John Howard Society of Manitoba executive director John Hutton said the organization is generally supportive of the plan.

“On paper and in theory it looks good,” said Hutton.

Hutton would like to see fewer people incarcerated for minor offences such as mischief, shoplifting and vandalism.

He said it costs $204 per day to keep a person incarcerated.

“It’s not a good use of money, it’s not a good use of justice resources,” said Howard. “A lot of money and resources do get spent on relatively minor offences. It’s not good for the individual to be held in custody.”

Stefanson was joined by Block-by-Block Community Safety and Wellbeing Initiative executive director Heather Leeman and Momentum Centre co-executive director Kimber Corthey for the announcement.