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Lecture 3

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LAWS 3307
John Hale

LECTURE 34PRINCIPLES FOR RESPONDING TO YOUTH CRIMEAPrinciples of Youth Justice LawParliament has tried different approaches over the past 100 years1908 Juvenile Delinquents Act took parens patriae approach concern was at least in theory the welfare of child offenders and there was little focus on punishment or deterrence1984 Young Offenders Act totally new philosophy more emphasis on protection of society accountability respect for legal rights young offenders were processed through the criminal justice system rather than a child welfare system2003 Youth Criminal Justice Act there continues to be a separate but parallel system of criminal justice the underlying philosophy is that adolescents are to be treated differently from children more accountable more mature therefore criminally liable yet also different from adults diminished responsibility less mature so emphasis is on rehabilitation and meaningful consequences even if that means dealing with the matter outside the criminal justice systemOver the past 100 years there has always been a recognition of decreased accountability and an emphasis on rehabilitation as well as a need to address the underlying causes of youth crime and the idea that a less formal communitybased response is often more effective than extended court proceedingsBThe Evolution of Principles Governing Youth Justice1Common lawthPrior to 19 century there was no recognition that a separate justice system was needed for youthsCommon law doli incapax defence the incapacity to do wrongat English CL law had developed whereby children under 7 were deemed incapable of committing a criminal act for 713 yearolds there was a presumption of doli incapax that could be rebutted Children who were convicted faced adult penalties including hanging Example in 1813a 13yearold boy in Montreal was hanged for stealing a cowUpper Canadas first prison at Kingston opened in 1835 In 1839 there were 6 boys aged 1215From Department of Justice International Working Group The Evolution of Juvenile Justice in Canada 2005 found at httpwwwjusticegccaenpsinterjuvjusminindexhtml Punishments were meted out frequently for simple disciplinary offences often of the most innocuous kind and whippings were administered before an assembly of the inmates One 10yearold boy committed on 4 May 1845 for a sevenyear term was publicly lashed 57 times in the space of eight and a half months His offences were staring and laughing which although in contravention of prison rules were normal behaviour for a boy of that age An eightyearold child admitted on 7 November 1845 for a threeyear term received the lash within the first week of his arrival Over a ninemonth period he was similarly punished 47 times An 11yearold FrenchCanadian boy received 12 lashes on Christmas Eve 1844 for speaking FrenchIn the prisons female quarters young girls experienced similar treatment The records show that one 14 yearold was whipped seven times in four months while a 12 yearold was similarly punished five times over another fourmonth period Both boys and girls were sentenced to the same terms as adults for the various crimes and in prison they were subject to the same rules and conditions At the time of the Brown Commission investigation three children under 12 including one eight yearold and 12 under 16 were serving time in Kingston PrisonChildren for some time continued to be put in jails and prisons across the country and they endured the same treatment and foul conditions that characterised the criminal justice system as a whole As the population and the number of settlements increased across the country so did the incidence of youth crime More children were brought before the courts and sent to jail However as soon became apparent this form of punishment was accomplishing very little Rather many juveniles were corrupted by older offenders and instead of being turned away from crime returned to society schooled in the latest lawbreaking techniques As a result many young people went on to more serious offences following their incarceration and all too often ended up back in jail2Juvenile Delinquents Act 1908JDAs philosophy was childwelfare oriented aimed at correcting wayward youth exemplified by the status offences of sexual immorality or any similar form of viceBecause state intervention was seen as being for the benefit of the child court proceedings were informal and the child had no legal rightsBecause the JDA was tied in with the child welfare system which was a provincial concern the age of juveniles was defined by the provinces in Ontario maximum age was 1516yearolds were treated as adults
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