Sgt. Jake Bouwman and Glen Purdy

Sgt. Jake Bouwman and Glen Purdy Recipients of Governor General’s Meritorious Service Decorations

From Sparwood BC to Toronto. Stopping Youth Crime from the ground up

Back in 1995, David Lockett and Dan Cornacchia launched the Redwood Shelter for abused women and children in Toronto. The men were deciding what to do next with their time and energies. They decided to raise money and awareness to create programs that eliminate violence at the causal level and create massive social change. The resulting charity was called The Canadian Foundation for The Prevention of Family Violence. Its mandate – to leverage the corporate community to fund programs that reduce violence in our homes and our communities. The two men had a mission and were looking for world-class programs to model.

Lockett came across a four-page story about two men making a significant difference in their small community in British Columbia.

Addressing a House of Commons Standing Committee on justice and legal affairs in 1996, Jake Bouwman said the following: “I guess our program is unique in the sense that it’s probably the first program in Canada that has a defence lawyer and a policeman in total agreement on how a system should work. I think it bodes well for the community of Sparwood and any other community, because people can work together if they would just try.”

Sgt. Bouwman was referring to a youth justice program in Sparwood BC, a tiny community of 5,000 people in the Rocky Mountains. The Sparwood Youth Assistance Program began officially in January of 1995 as a community initiative run by Sergeant Bouwman of the Sparwood Detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Glen Purdy, a Sparwood lawyer in private practice.

Two individuals on opposite sides of the criminal justice system had come together to address the essential problems of the youth court system and in doing so, became visionaries for all of Canada.

Jake and Glen were fed up with a system that they saw as costly and ineffective, had a high reoffence rate for youth and excluded one very important player – the victim of any offence. They created their groundbreaking program based upon the Community Accountability Conferencing Model developed in Waga Waga, New South Wales, Australia, and influenced by Shame Reintegration Theory by John Braithwaite.

After reading the story on Jake and Glen, David called them and asked if they could meet and potentially model their program in the Toronto Youth Courts. Over the next 4 years, Glen and Jake flew to Toronto many times to help mentor, train and set up what would become The PACT Youth Crime Reduction Program in the Toronto Youth Courts.

Between themselves and their unconditional drive to make a positive change, Jake and Glen took a justice system that was an adversarial process focused on guilt, innocence and conviction and turned it into one that focused on community sentence, changing behaviour at the causal level and healing the victims of crime.

Glen Purdy remains a key advisor and a part of the PACT team. He is on the PACT Board of advisors.

PACT has named a service award after Jake and Glen called The Glen Purdy and Jake Bouwman Award.

Social Innovators