17 Dec, 2019
Monitoring the Performance of Canada’s Criminal Justice System
Over the last decade, recognizing a growing public sector interest in measuring the performance of the criminal justice system and the impact of criminal law reform, ICCLR has focused some of its work on the development of performance measurement tools and processes. ICCLR Associates contributed to the development of the UN Rule of Law Indicators (2011) and to international discussions regarding indicators of progress towards Sustainable Development Goal No. 16 (Access to Justice) in the post-conflict context. This was followed by additional projects to develop key performance indicators for the criminal justice system, for criminal legal aid, and for access to justice in general.
In 2019, the Department of Justice Canada introduced the first performance monitoring framework for Canada’s criminal justice system (State of the Criminal Justice System – 2019 Report). The framework is based on feedback from multi-phased consultations with criminal justice system partners, stakeholders and experts, and technical support by ICCLR Senior Associate, Yvon Dandurand. Notably, the framework draws from a report co-authored by ICCLR Senior Associates, Yvon Dandurand and Alison MacPhail (Using Indicators to Help Improve the Justice System, 2014), and a reference guide produced by ICCLR in collaboration with the Thailand Institute of Justice (Justice Indicators and Criminal Justice Reform, ICCLR/TIJ, 2015). These same tools were also used as a starting point for the development of a military justice performance network (Military Justice Performance Measurement Metrics, A Measurement Framework, Office of the Judge Advocate General of Canada, 2019).
The Access to Justice Measurement Framework developed by ICCLR’s Senior Associates Yvon Dandurand and Jessica Jahn on behalf of the A2JBC Measurement Working Group is another flexible framework that can be used by justice system stakeholders to align their various monitoring and evaluation efforts, and to learn from each other’s experience with access to justice innovation. The Measurement Framework recently endorsed by nearly 50 BC justice system stakeholders, served as a basis for the provincial Justice Metrics Colloquium (May 2019) jointly sponsored by ICCLR, the UVic Access to Justice Centre for Excellence, and Access to Justice B.C. The same framework has also served as a building block for a feasibility review on Measuring the Economic Impact of Family Legal Aid in British Columbia (Law Society of BC, 2018) and as a starting point for developing a justice metrics framework for civil and family justice in Saskatchewan (Civil and Family Justice Metrics: Towards a Framework for Saskatchewan, Sixth Annual Dean’s Forum on Access to Justice and Dispute Resolution, 2018).
Robust performance monitoring frameworks and justice indicators will inform evidence-based decision making, contribute to the credibility and accountability of the criminal justice system, and meaningfully affect the lives of Canadians.