What to do about youth crime?
Lecture- March 27, 2013
Illustrate how an alternative way of understanding and responding to criminalized girls and young women would
involve “gender responsiveness.” What are some risks of gender responsiveness?
Examine the extent to which the Youth Criminal Justice System is both gendered and de-gendered.
Challenge the claim that girls’ aggression reflects their empowerment, drawing on research cited in the chapter.
Discuss why “bad girls” tend to be viewed as more problematic that boys who engage in criminal behaviour.
Illustrate with a historical and contemporary example.
Identify how Aboriginal youth are “Other.” Discuss what lesson we learn about how “other” ethnic groups are
disproportionately targeted by the criminal justice system by examining the othering of Aboriginal youth.
How does the experience of an Aboriginal young person in the YCJS differs starkly from his or her non-Aboriginal
What is the intersectionality approach? Provide an example of the usefulness of this approach using an example
from Youth Justice in Canada.
Demonstrate how subsistence strategies are gendered. Illustrate the implications of the gendered nature of the
street for males and females.
Examine how victimization and criminalization are interrelated in the lives of street-involved youth by drawing
on relevant research and theory.
Explore the extent to which youth homelessness is a gendered and/or racialized problem. Discuss social
exclusion in either the case of female youth or Aboriginal youth.
What is the PIC?
Ubuntu – my humanity is tied up with your humanity implications?
a focus on relationships as a starting point can potentially transform the common picture of justice
How, the, can we restore relationships among youth to reflect dignity, compassion, and respect?
A separate justice system was developed on assumption: youth people require a qualitatively different response
compared to adults
Ask: What does the youth in youth crime mean for how we as a society handle its associated problems? What is
the role of the young person in the process?
Debates in the literature
1) call for a tougher, more punitive YCJS
o i.e. holds society must deal more harshly with youth – assumes the more severe the processing, the less
likely future delinquency (e.g. more custody, longer sentences)
o young people should be held more accountable- more custody and longer sentences
o not a lot of empirical evidence to show this works
2) alternatives to custody
o i.e. holds that a young person’s self-concept changes to be consistent with label, making delinquent
behaviour more likely
bifurcated approach – two way process revealed in House of Commons debates (one approach for non-serious
offenders and another one for serious offenders)
criminal justice processing does not invariably reduce recidivism- not a lot of research on what effects YCJS has
on youth offenders
Doob found being caught, apprehended by police, charged, or given short, sharp shocks produced no real
o more not always ‘good’
o more may not always be ‘bad’
o contact often increases likelihood of subsequent offending Detention Centres: Responding to Crime with Incarceration
Roy McMurtry Center and TYAC
if you cause hurt/harm, then you too should be hurt/harmed (retribution)
retributive paradigm of justice = punishment should send a message or warning that those who cause hurt and
harm will also suffer (deterrence); i.e. jails
o no emphasis on rehabilitation
sentencing youth to custody publicly and politically popular (punishable young offender)
discourse of intrusive punishment is being challenged
o “shock incarceration”- militaristic regime ; disciplinary notion
o strong militaristic regime involving physical labour, military drills, and highly structured daily schedule
o developed out of loss of faith in rehabilitation, shift to preventing crime and protecting public
o involve detention, but usually shorter and less intrusive than typical secure custody
Boot camps in Canada
many who believe youth today lack discipline and respect for authority find boot camps attractive
o serve different, contradictory purposes at boot camps
o adopted for political, financial or ideological reasons
o little demonstrated success
o E.g. Project Turnaround (est. 1997)
Boot camps Evaluation
Studies in US reveal problems:
o General approach to boot camp
o community resistance to location of boot camps (more boot camps in US )
o inadequate aftercare facilities/programs
o inappropriate placements
o tensions between rehabilitation and military discipline
No substantial evidence they reliably impact recidivism rates
o Vs. secure or open custody
o some youth re-offend at higher rates
attempt to frighten youth into behaving in conventional ways – to be ‘scared’ into being ‘straight’ or law-abiding
o ignores causes of crime; lack of fear is not a cause of crime in the first place
New Jersey group of lifers started program based on deterrence theory
o documentary film at Rathway State Prison where lifers screamed at, berated, terrified group of young
led to many states implementing such programs
Roy McMurtry Centre
What different penal regimes are represented in this youth jail?
Petrosino et. al. analysis concluded Scared Straight Programs failed to deter and actually led to more offending
yet belief in effectiveness caught on
Finckenauer refers to this as “panacea problem” – latch on to quick, short-term, inexpensive ‘cures’ to difficult
social problems Re-thinking System- Based Responses
What should happen when a young person commits a crime?
Is youth crime merely about the deviant behaviours of recalcitrant youth, as widely accepted?
Or, is the relationship between youth, crime, and society is far more complex?
in legal terms, crime = rules broken
o public criticism of responses to crime focus on failure of justice system, but favour strengthening it and
adopting more law and criminal justice
o failure of justice system as opposed to failure of society
What about the real suffering and long-term consequences of crime?
from an alternative approach, crime = harms done
o looking at victim, not only the offender
an alternative path moves beyond current system and considers how resources are allocated
one of the principles of YCJA
engage offenders, hold them accountable for their actions and for repairing harm
non-adversarial (Crown feel if someone is found guilty, they won; one side against the other) and non-
healing for victims
meaningful accountability of offenders
involvement of citizens in creating healthier, safer communities
international movement (based on Braithwaite’s theory of reintegration shaming) spread throughout New
Zealand, Australia, UK, US, & Canada since early 90s
o “satisfying” or “transformative” justice
echoes traditional justice in Aboriginal cultures
engaged in reconciling two seemingly contradictory aims:
o 1) sending a message that an act is unacceptable (e.g. punishment) and 2) supporting the offender (e.g.
difficult to define, many meanings/contexts
o i.e. program, practice, philosophy, model
o includes a variety of practices at different stages of criminal justice process
3 guiding principles:
o 1) crime is a violation of a relationship among victims, offenders, and the community;
o 2) responses to crime should encourage active involvement of victim, offender, and community;
o 3) a consensus approach to justice is the most effective response to crime.
Restorative Justice Conflict Resolutions
Venues outside of justice s