Youth Criminal Defence Office (YCDO)
Providing holistic criminal defence services to youth in conflict with the law is the focus of YCDO’s efforts. Located in Calgary and Edmonton, the YCDO provides legal service and youth worker advocacy to youth on a daily basis inside and outside of the Youth Justice Court system.
The legal services provided include: duty counsel advice; Brydges services (24-hour legal advice upon arrest); interim release applications; plea negotiations; trials; sentencing hearings; and appeals (including Court of Queen’s Bench, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada). The YCDO youth workers play a significant role in youth advocacy by identifying realized or potential risk factors; creating customized case/release plans; recommending or advocating for resources, interventions and/or support from Child and Family Services or other governmental ministries; and by providing transportation and support in accessing necessities of life or making positive lifestyle changes. Further, support to navigate and complete the Extrajudicial Sanctions Program is offered.
The staff at YCDO is committed to supporting programs and influencing policy that protect children’s rights and provide for children’s needs. It works with partners such as the University of Alberta’s Poverty Law class and provides practicum placements annually. Staff continues to support many stakeholders as advisors and through expert presentations with respect to the Youth Criminal Justice Act and related topics. For example, a staff member recently presented to a group of judges from the Ukraine who were members of the Judicial Working Group Study tour for the Ukraine Juvenile Justice Reform project.
YCDO youth/social worker staff continue to be leaders in the development of supportive plans for youth with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. In both cities, the YCDO has been instrumental in developing conferencing projects under s.19 of the Youth Criminal Justice Act that bring together both government and community organizations to create wrap-around services to youth with the diagnosis. This team also works collaboratively with a multitude of community agencies and continuously strives to identify needs and advocates to fill resource gaps in the system.