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Lecture 5

SOC310H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Shoplifting, Restorative Justice, Indictable Offence

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Abigail Salole

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Lecture 5: February 6, 2013
Youth Justice System
Policing Youth Justice: YCJA
6. (1) A police officer shall, before starting judicial proceedings or taking any other measures under this
Act against a young person alleged to have committed an offence, consider whether it would be
sufficient, having regard to the principles set out in section 4, to take no further action, warn the young
person, administer a caution, if a program has been established under section 7, or, with the consent of
the young person, refer the young person to a program or agency in the community that may assist the
young person not to commit offences
okay for police officers to warn young person (verbal or written), refer to community program or take
no action
police felt their discretion was being taken away from them
led to changes in number of young people that were incarcerated; police are the gatekeepers of the
youth justice system
A) Issue a warning (formal or informal) to the young offender about behavior
B) Take the young person home for a talk with parents or guardians
C) Arresting and holding the youth in police custody (parent must be notified)
D) Taking the young person to the police station for questioning before releasing her/him
E) Writing up a report on the young person before release;
F) Charging the young person with an offence
G) Referring the young person to a diversionary program or youth justice committee
H) Holding the young person in detention (max 24 h) for further judicial processing - (Principle of Least
Restrictive Alternative)
Youth cannot appeal the police’s decision
Surveillance high (compared to adults)- young people more likely to have some authority figure
watching them (teachers, parents, police, general public)
Under YOA dramatic increases in formal charging of young offenders (Schissel 1993)
By the last year of the YOA, 44% youth accused by police were handled outside the formal YCJS
In 2003, rate of youth charge decreased by 16% (error on your slides)
In 2006, 58% were informally processed by the police or Crown.
71% of informal measures reported by police involved verbal warnings 6% involved referals
s. 140
Police authority to arrest modifies CC based on level of maturity
Arrest: “constraint of a person’s freedom by physical coercion or the implication of possible coercion.”;
considered to be under arrest if freedom is constrained
Most of the time police need a warrant
The police have a right to stop and search if there are “objective reasons” (unless they have a warrant)
Legal Factors Affecting Police Discretion
Seriousness of crime involves different levels of discretion
The most important consideration in laying a charge
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Prior Police contact (regardless of whether or not it led to a charge) “known to police’ ;sometimes
warning under YCJA has led to more documentation (may have a long list of prior warnings); police tend
to give out a warning easily because there is no direct consequence
Cicourel (1968) simply being in contact with police is often enough to increase probability of a charge.
Contact with police is remembered.
Terry (1967) a record leads to future arrests
Carrington and Schulenberg (2005)
Police are more likely to detain youth who have prior convictions and who have previously breached a
probation order.
Police did not differentiate between a record for a criminal offence or diversionary measures
Extralegal factors
Hard to separate the legal from the extra-legal because police more likely to keep records
Race: YOC more likely to be arrested and have record. Police more likely to keep record … so no surprise
(Huizinga & Elliot 1987, Carrington and Schulenberg).
Complainant less likely to be lenient with Black youth ( Black and Reiss, 1970)
Demeanor(appearance and attitude) and Race: Expectations.. 71% of police report youth demeanor is
important (Carrington and Shulberg 2005); important in whether or not police decides to lay charges or
i.e. clip seen in class- “police behaviour changes if you talk back”
Neuegebaur-Visano (1996): Toronto
Young people clearly believe that black youth are a focus of police harassment.
Language warning
Class and Marginalization: high rate of criminalization of homeless youth (Wortley and Tanner 2005)
Criminalization of homeless youth: Safe Streets Act
Age and Gender: women treated more leniently… but depends on the offence. Visher (1983) both
found that police are reluctant to arrest female suspects who behave stereotypically female. Police
more likely to arrest young girls.
Family and Community: When parents are cooperative and interested a warning is more likely to be
given. When there are services, police also have more options.
Parental involvement important in decision making
If they think young person will be punished at home then there is less need to put youth in
criminal justice system
42% of Canadian police officers said parental involvement was important in their decision-making
(Carrington and Schulenberg 2005)
Police departments
- A lot of variation by police department
High risk youth: youth with characteristics and/or living circumstances that are known to be criminogenic
- Some police departments have risk management programs usually for young offenders leaving
custody setting
- Intense police supervision of a youth and family youth more likely to be active and supervised thus
more likely to be arrested (more likely to be caught)
- Different subcultures and organizational policies that lead to variation
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