PACT URBAN PEACE PROGRAM, TORONTO

Scarborough service club becomes “part of the solution”

Local service club helps fight youth crime

SUSAN O’NEILL – Mar. 3, 2004

And as many as 15 young offenders will benefit from the partnership, thanks to a $5,000 donation to the PACT Youth Crime Reduction Program from the North Scarborough Rotary Club.

“One of the main reasons we felt it was important to support the program is that it keeps young people out of the courts and it keeps young people from re-offending,” said club vice president Anna Maria Korell.

SOMETHING TANGIBLE

“There are so many concerns, particularly in Scarborough, about crime and youth crime these days. The members of the club felt this was something very tangible we could do … we wanted to get involved at the ground level,” she said.

PACT, which stands for participation, acknowledgement, commitment and transformation, has been operating out of the Metro East Youth Court in Scarborough for two years.

The program provides Crown attorneys and probation officers, which refer suitable young people to PACT, with an alternative to the court system when dealing with young offenders, said PACT spokesperson Terance Brouse.

“There are issues outside of just gun violence in Scarborough,” he said, explaining the program has proven a good option for young offenders involved in less serious crimes.

The concept of the program revolves around a resolution conference that typically involves the offender, the victim, their parents, a community representative, a trained mediator and the arresting officer.

Brouse explained that each member of the group has an opportunity to talk about the incident from their perspective and to discuss the effects that the crime has had on each of them.

The entire group then decides on a sentence for the offender, Brouse said.

The program, which was initially funded by the program’s two co-founders, relies on support from community organizations, Brouse said.

“There’s a real synergy with Rotary because of what they call the Urban Partnership Initiative,” he said, noting the North Scarborough club is the first local club to support the program.

Korell said the Rotary club is interested in providing ongoing support to the PACT program in Scarborough.

“We are so pleased to be part of the solution,” she said.