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Lecture 2

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Carleton University
LAWS 3307
John Hale

LECTURE 23HISTORY OF THE YCJAAAdolescence and the Rationales for a Youth Justice SystemAll legal systems treat children and youths differently than adults and recognize that they should not be held accountable the same way as adultsSignificant differences from country to country re the definition of child and youth and how they are treated differently than adultsIn other respects youths are treated differently than adults as wellRights to property and inheritance are differentDo not have the same privileges as adults driving drinking etcCanadian law recognizes 3 distinct phases of criminal accountability1Childhood under age 12 no criminal liabilityth2Youth 12 to day before 18 birthday limited accountability under YCJA3Adulthood 18 full legal accountabilityThe rationale for this is that it is a fundamental principle of criminal law that we punish only for blameworthy behaviour there must be mens rea There is recognition that there is1Diminished responsibility in the case of youths2 Children and to a lesser extent adolescents do not have the same moral development as adults they do not have the same intellectual capacity to fully appreciate the consequences of their actions3 Adolescents tend to act more impulsively without foresight of the consequences of their actions and without empathy at least in any sophisticated form4Sense of invulnerability Development of the adolescent brainFrontal Lobe often called the command center of the brain is the part of the brain that controls the decision making process for adults including longterm planning risk assessment impulse control and other behaviors associated with criminal culpability It is also one ofthe last parts of the brain to fully mature in the early 20s This late maturation process suggests that adolescents are not as capable as adults of weighing longterm consequences and evaluating riskassessment Prefrontal Cortex is responsible for cognitive processing problem solving and
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