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Chapter

Crim 210 Distance Ed Chapter Notes


Department
Criminology
Course Code
CRIM 210
Professor
David Mac Alister

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Crim 210 Chapter 1 9/13/2011 6:34:00 PM
1
Introduction
Public issues matters of public concern that are debated in a variety of forums and
usually involve demands for action
By putting the current issue of youth crime in a historical context, we will see that
youth crime has always been a part of Canadian society, but not always a public issue
The Public Issue
Over the last 2 decades, youth crime has been the subject of considerable public
concern and discourse
o Discourse how things are talked about and understood, both orally and in
written form, including formal talk, such as theory; professional talk, such as
reports, books, and media; and conversations
Media and the Politics of Youth Crime
o It is often said that “crime is news” and so we should not be surprised that the
news media devotes as much time as it does to reporting crime events
o Amount of emphasis on youth violence is disproportionate to the amount of
youth crime that actually involves violence of a serious nature
Politics of youth crime the ways in which youth crime is understood and
talked about, both formally and informally, and the actions, laws and policies
that derive from this discourse
Juvenile Justice System a system of laws, policies, and practices designed
under the guiding philosophy that children and youth, because of their age and
maturity, should not be subject to criminal law in the same manner as adults
Two Opposing Sides
o Part of the Liberal federal government’s 1995 YOA reform involved a
Strategy for Reform of the entire youth justice system, an important part of
which involved consultations with the public and special-interest groups
o At the heart of the public issue were questions about whether the YOA
effectively controlled youth crime: the public was clearly divided into two
camps on the youth crime issue
Problematize a process whereby something, someone, or some group is
defined as a problem
“The Good Old Days”
unfortunately, historical data on youth crime and public responses are not readily
available since youth crime statistics were not always kept in the matter that they are
today

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2
There are no consistent prison records until 1835, the year the Kingston Penitentiary,
the first Canadian prison, opened
Penitentiary a 19th century term for prisoners based on a philosophy of
penitence and punishment to atone for wrongs
Beyond these primary data sources, there are a few academic analysis of youth crime
that provide secondary data
Primary data - research information gathered directly from the original
source
Secondary data research information or data that was originally collected
for another purpose
Lawless and Disobedient Youth: The 17th and 18th Century
o Reports described boys in New Frances as “lawless” and “disobedient” and
girls as “vain” and “lazy”
o In 1707 they described the children in New France as “hard and ferocious”
o Crimes involved vandalism, petty theft, brawling, swearing, immorality,
violations of local ordinances, and the abandonment of indentured service
contracts
o Children under 7 were considered incapable of understanding the crime
The Colonial Public Issue
o The issue for colonial administrators in the territories of Canada was the
freedom and independence that young people had relative to their counterparts
in the Old World
o Working children were considered independent from their parents
“Causes” and Solutions: An Era of Control and Punishment
o Two factors emerge as perceived “causes” of youth crime – parents and the
fur trade
o A very real source of problems came form the active promotion of
immigration to the New World
o In the 18th century, a variety of disciplinary measures were proposed as
solutions to youth crime
More schools, more priests, and confinement to settled parts of the
colony
A Question of Immorality: The 19th Century
o Urban problems associated with immigration and poverty continued and
worsened throughout the 19th century

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o By the mid 1800s, British and Canadian authorities had developed policies to
send Britain’s orphaned, poor, and destitute children to Canada as indentured
servants
The Victorian Public Issue
o Throughout the latter half of the 1800s, the issue of youth crime seemed to be
a moral one
Because of poverty and destitution brought on by a lack of
employment and severe working conditions, countless numbers of
children and young people were spending a good portion of their lives
on city streets, which they worked by begging, stealing, and selling
whatever they could to make a living
“Causes” and Solutions: An Era of Social Reform
o According to Rothman, a reform movement swept North America in the latter
half of the 19th century
The essential tenets of this movement were focus on the individual, a
widespread belief in the goodness of humanitarian sentiment, and
above all, a belief in the ability of the state and professionals to reform
individuals
The emergence of the progressive reform movement marked the birth
of rehabilitative philosophy
Rehabilitative philosophy a belief that the right treatment
can change a person’s attitudes, values, and/or behavior
They argued that it was far more effective in the long run to return
“evil with a good” by trying to rehabilitate individuals who had
committed crimes
Implemented in 1908, the Juvenile Delinquents Act made juvenile
delinquent a legal status
Juvenile delinquent a concept popularized in the Victorian
era, referring to child and youth who were considered
problematic for a variety of reasons
Some reformers believed that length sentences in reformatories were
necessary to rehabilitate young people, while others were opposed to
institutionalizing young people, whether in youth or adult prison
Reformatories a 19th-century term for juvenile prisons that
were based on a belief in the ability of prisons to reform or
change an individual
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