First Half Study Notes

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Published on 16 Apr 2012
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Young Offenders Study Notes
* Young people have always been involved in crime, smaller and pettier, i.e. property crime*
*The good old days never existed; no way of knowing crime rates from decades ago*
*Colonial Era - 19th Century: children as possessions subject to parental authority*
*Confederation - 20th Century: individuals in own right in need of state protection (parens patriae)*
*20th Century Now: subjects with entitlements and rights; best interests of child*
Youth advocates: children as victims in need of protection and no issues with youth and YOA (social workers,
lawyers, etc.)
Law-and-Order: children accused of crime as the enemy (police, security, shop owners, etc.)
- Young offenders as super predators get tough
Formal vs. Informal processing: cases handled in court vs. out of court
Historically!
Pre-Confederation: children and youth treated same as adults
17th and 18th centuries: not very documented, crimes of petty nature
- European society: no rights for children, at the mercy of adults
- Kids under 7 “not capable of crime”, but still punished as adults if convicted
Colonial period: adults were dependent upon child labour for economic success lack of authority
- Fur trade: seigneurial system of inheritance (oldest child inherits), others kids had to look elsewhere
- Parents: promotion of immigration to the New World; many parents died on the trip over
19th century: children shipped over to Canada as servants, those that escaped had to fend
- Girls having to “service” employers to leave would to be forfeit letter of reference
- No juvenile jails, kids in adult prisons (mostly girls)
1857: Act for Establishing Prisons for Young Offenders separate institutions for youth
Victorian: behaviour and well-being of youth became a subject of concern
- Halifax City Mission: prostitution, liqueur trade, infanticide (biggest problems)
- Parents viewed as immoral and unable to control their kids
- Concerned for young girls on streets, not for safety but for morality
- Rehabilitative philosophy: return evil with good (child savers), prisons as schools for crime
Post-Victorian: youth offenders were separated from adults
1908: Juvenile Delinquents Act (made juvenile delinquency a legal status)
- Welfare-based juvenile justice system parens patriae (parent of the country)
- Violation of federal, provincial, or municipal law (not necessarily criminal) by persons under 16
- Cases to be handled summarily outside of court, separate detention facilities
- Probation a common sentence, officer to reform child and whole family (quickly became policing)
- Still opposing sides to whether youth should be sentenced to reformatories
- Parents not lacking discipline/authority but being immoral/neglectful
Opposition: not punitive enough/potential abuses to children’s rights (lack of autonomy)
- Status offenses: not criminal if engaged in by adult, lumping together all child/youth offenses
- Young people who were not breaking the law were being punished in the same manner (no set terms for
sentences, problems with due process)
1984: Young Offenders Act: youth crime “increased” because more youth were brought into court
- Marginalized youth: dependent upon adults for survival (economic liability) denied adulthood
- Youth in state of dependency requiring guidance as well as supervision and control
- Limited accountability: youth held accountable but not as much as adults
- Special needs: immaturity and dependency relative to adults, addressed to offending behaviour
- Principle of diversion: measures other than court processing if protection of society isn’t compromised
Only for first offenders and those convicted of minor offenses
- Right to legal representation and right to know that and other rights (parents not covered under rights)
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- No word on parental responsibility, more parental involvement in proceedings
- Crime-control model: criminal behaviour motivated by free will and needs to be punished in order for deterrence
to occur
Opposition: too lenient (according to media)
2003: Youth Criminal Justice Act (everyone but Quebec)
- Protection of the public through crime prevention, rehabilitation, and meaningful consequences
- Retains welfare focus, justice focus, due process, and crime-control
- Sebastien’s Law: young offenders being sentenced proportionate to crime (from rehab +reintegration to
punishment + public shaming)
- Restorative justice: encouraging reparation and reintegration (rehab was lost in YOA)
- Omission of alternative measures as a principle
- Bill C-4: individual deterrence and denunciation as sentencing principles easier to sentence youth to custody
through redefining violent offenses and place more youth in pre-trial custody
- Children are protected under the Charter as Canadians, not as children
- Just because police inform children of their rights doesn’t mean they understand them
- High rates of administrative offenses are continuing
Harsh punishments = high juvenile crime rates lenient treatments = high rates harsh punishments
Punitive, lump children +adults together Welfare, separation of kids +adults Putting youth in the adult justice
system while keeping minor offenders our of justice system altogether (bifurcated)
Patterns in Crime
- Adult crime surpasses youth crime
- Youth crime stats measure Criminal Code offenses, delinquency stats measure all types
- Growing cities/industrialization provided more opportunity population growth = crime growth
- Youth crime rates mirror overall crime rates
Measuring Youth Crime!
The media: what appear to be crime waves may be media waves
- Media: politics of youth crime coverage disproportionate to amount of actual crime
- Moral panic greater problem than youth crime, youth as scapegoats
- Crime is news, funding for police
Police stats: known to police (complaints or observations), cleared (suspect and prepared to process lay charges
or some other action)
Court stats: kept by individual courts and yield smaller number than police stats
- Info about offenders/offenses/sentences (not all people known to police get arrested…end up in court)
- Not all provinces are always included, only measure cases going to court (not all criminal activity)
Uniform Crime Reporting: Standardized police data in Canada in early 1960s reported as general indexes
Self-Report: became apparent that youth criminal behaviour was higher than reported by official stats
- Under-represent offenses of middle-class youth most are drug offenses i.e. willing participants
- Small number of male offenders responsible for majority of property crimes
Victimization Surveys: useful in combination with other statistics
- Individuals and households, not victimless crimes or where person doesn’t know they’re a victim
- Provide info on police clearance rates, but difficult for offender stats (one offender, many crimes)
Ethnographic method: lives are documented through direct participation, observation, or interview
Longitudinal studies: data collected from the same group at different periods of time
Issues
Violent Crime Debate: changes in attitudes = increases in reporting and Crown prosecution willingness
- Fear of retaliation or ostracization may inhibit youth from reporting
- Carrington’s Challenge: rate comparisons should be based on crimes reported not crimes charged
Validity and Reliability: measuring what we think we are measuring vs. whether results can be repeated
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Document Summary

* young people have always been involved in crime, smaller and pettier, i. e. property crime* *the good old days never existed; no way of knowing crime rates from decades ago* *colonial era - 19th century: children as possessions subject to parental authority* *confederation - 20th century: individuals in own right in need of state protection (parens patriae)* *20th century now: subjects with entitlements and rights; best interests of child* Youth advocates: children as victims in need of protection and no issues with youth and yoa (social workers, lawyers, etc. ) Law-and-order: children accused of crime as the enemy (police, security, shop owners, etc. ) Young offenders as super predators get tough. Informal processing: cases handled in court vs. out of court. Pre-confederation: children and youth treated same as adults. 17th and 18th centuries: not very documented, crimes of petty nature. European society: no rights for children, at the mercy of adults.

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