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Ontario Crown attorneys told to consider least restrictive bail recommendations

Yasir Naqvi, Ontario's Attorney General, appears in a file photo at Queen's Park. Nathan Denette / File / The Canadian Press

TORONTO – Ontario is giving Crown attorneys a new directive that bail recommendations should start with the least restrictive form of release.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi says the current policy focuses on protecting public safety and refers to cases in which people on bail committed murder-suicides.

READ MORE: Ontario attorney general calls for more judges, Criminal Code changes to speed up justice system

Naqvi says in keeping with a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision, the new policy will emphasize that an unconditional release should be the default, and if that is not an acceptable outcome, at that point other options such as conditions should be considered.

About two-thirds of the people held in Ontario’s correctional institutions are on remand, meaning they are legally innocent.

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Naqvi says many disadvantaged people end up in remand because they don’t have the social or financial supports to get bail.

He says the new bail directive works hand-in-hand with increased community supports, such as alternatives to detention for accused people who are mentally ill.

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