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An Indigenous Analysis of the Role of Probation Officers as Street-Level Bureaucrats within the Reintegration and Rehabilitation Process for Saskatoon Youth Exiting the Justice System



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In 2003, the Youth Criminal Justice Act was reformed to create extrajudicial sanctions that prevent young people from having lengthy custody sentences. This change in legislation created demands for community organizations to respond to the needs of youth who are on probation orders and required community support. With this, the structure of youth probation in Saskatchewan has shifted since 2003, which has more than doubled caseloads for youth probation officers, who are defined as street level bureaucrats in the context of this thesis. Through a decolonial analysis of the role of probation officers as street level bureaucrats in relationship to the youth they interact with, who act as a socially constructed target population, this thesis presents an opportunity for policy makers, scholars, and community members to consider an alternative to the current colonial legal system as it pertains to youth. The thesis draws on the youth voice as an expert to their basic needs, goals, insights and experiences, in a framework that acknowledges justice as the restoration of health and well-being in a community. The methodology included interviews three with young people who were involved in the colonial legal system and with five probation officers. The findings indicate that demands within community-based sentences, along with high caseloads of probation officers, create friction within the system that ultimately fails to meet the needs of the youth. In turn, these failings reproduce a reliance on government-run programs and services associated with colonial interventions in the lives of Indigenous youth. The alternative way to understanding justice outlined in this thesis is in response to the Indigenous population that is disproportionately affected by the inequities presented within the colonial legal system’s history, current policy design and model. This analysis reveals there are several missed opportunities within the existing system for establishing pathways for the restoration of kinship.



indigenous youth, youth, colonial legal system, risk, settler-colonialism, anti-indigenous racism



Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.)


Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy


Public Policy



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