The Provincial Court of B.C. will open its 11th specialized sentencing court in B.C. on May 6, 2021.
The specialized sentencing court, or Integrated Court, is not a trial court but eligible individuals may have bail hearings, guilty pleas and sentencings there.
The new Integrated Court will be the third of its kind in Kelowna.
“The Kelowna Integrated Court will focus primarily on offenders struggling with addiction, living with mental health issues, or experiencing homelessness,” Provincial Court of B.C. staff wrote in a release.
The newest Integrated Court is the result of years of work by groups and individuals in Kelowna seeking to reduce crime and improve public safety by integrating health and social services with the justice system in order to address the root causes of criminal behaviour, according to the province.
“The goal of an Integrated Community Court is to address gaps in the traditional court approach for people whose interactions with the criminal justice system are a result of their substance use, mental health or housing challenges,” said retired B.C. judge Geoffrey Barrow.
“The Court seeks to do that by connecting individuals with the support they need in the community and by monitoring their circumstances while they are subject to community supervision.”