The Community Service Order Program offers the court an alternative to incarceration or some other penalty by placing offenders on a probation order or a conditional sentence that requires them to perform a specific number of hours of community service work. The work is performed for approved local governments, Indian Bands or non-profit organizations. Regional Program Coordinators are available in each region to offer instruction and to assist with the program.
In determining the appropriateness of this alternative sanction the court may consider the following factors:
- Is the offender a risk to the community or to the program?
- Is the offender able to perform community service work?
- Is there suitable work available? In a rural area, is the agency willing to accept the offender?
- Is the offender available to perform the work?
The court determines the number of community service hours to be worked, to a maximum of 240 hours. Offenders ordered to perform community service work could face further court sanction if they do not complete the required work or they fail to comply with the rules and regulations of the program.
Community Service Order Program participants who may be injured are covered by The Workers' Compensation Act, 2013 while performing community service work assigned by the Community Service Order Agency.
Community Service work means participating in a work activity that: Is normally performed by volunteers and does not affect employment opportunities in the community. Offenders participate in work activity that:
- benefits non-profit organizations, local governments or Indian Bands;
- creates benefits visible in the community;
- involves the participant working, preferably, with other citizens rather than alone; and
- does not include treatment or counselling.
The program has many benefits:
- It is a socially productive penalty.
- It is corrective in nature - offenders have an opportunity to repay their debt to society through a means other than incarceration.
- Offenders gain work experience and learn their work can be useful and appreciated.
- The demand for costly institutional space is reduced.
- Participation of the community in the criminal justice system is facilitated.