Textbook Notes (369,205)
Canada (162,462)
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SOC219H5 (35)
Chapter 5

Chapter 5 Reading Notes.pdf

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Nicole Myers

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CHAPTER 5-- Youth Justice Policy Reform: The Youth Criminal Justice Act • Youth Justice legislation governs how the criminal law deals with people who are not considered adults under the criminal law • in over a century of youth justice legislation in Canada, there have been three youth justice statutes • the most recent, the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) came into force in 2003 Youth Justice Prior to the Youth Criminal Justice Act • Prior to 1908, children and youths in Canada were treated the same as adults under the criminal law • there was no separate youth justice law or youth justice system • children and youths received harsh punishments (e.g whipping) for a wide range of offences, and they were sent to the same prisons as adult criminals • in 1908, Canada passed its first youth justice statute, the Juvenile Delinquent Act (JDA)-- which took a child welfare approach to offending by children and youths • the Act made no distinction between 'neglected' children and 'delinquent' children • the focus was on treatment and not accountability • decisions were to be based on the best interest of the child • The age range oF juveniles was 7 up to 16, 17, or 18 depending on the provence • separate juvenile courts were established, and court proceedings were to be informal and private • in the 1960s and 1970s there were increasing concerns about individual rights and keeping less serious offenders out of the youth justice system • After 20 years of discussion and debate, these concerns were reflected in the Youth Offenders Act (YOA) which came into force in 1984 • in contrast to the JDA, the YOA attempted to blend and balance competing principles of criminal law and child welfare • It emphasized protection of society, recognized that young offenders were to be held accountable, permitted deterrence as a sentencing principle and introduced legal rights for youth • the YOA kept much of a welfare approach be emphasizing the needs of youth, stating principles so broadly that a welfare approach could be justified and permitting sentences that were disproportionate to the seriousness of the offence in order to address the welfare or treatment needs of youths • the YOA also removed status offences, introduced determinate sentences and created a uniform age range to be covered by the Act (from age 12 up until the 18th birthday) THE YOUTH CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT (2003): CRIMINAL LAWAND RESTRAINT APPROACH • The YOA was replaced by the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) in 2003 • the YOA, for many years had been widely criticized in the media, in public opinion surveys, and by politicians as too lenient on young offenders • the pressure for change was clearly in the direction go "getting tough" with young offenders through longer sentences, and greater use of custody • **REVIEW PG 111- 112 FOR THE PROBLEMS WITH THE YOA • The YCJA addressed these problem by shifting the orientation of youth justice to a criminal law • the YCJA has maintained certain aspects of the YOA, such as the legal rights of youths, but it differs significantly from the YOA in the following areas: Youth Justice Principles • the YCJA emphasizes accountability and proportionality • youth are to be held accountable through meaningful consequences and measures that promote rehabilitation and reintegration • the YCJA, like the YOA, stresses the importance of rehabilitation • unlike the YOA, the YCJA requires that rehabilitative measures be within a proportionate response to the offence • it stops the youth justice system from imposing an intervention that is disproportionate to the seriousness of the offence • the Act states that Canada should have a system that 'reserves its most serious interventions for the most serious crimes and reduces the over- reliance on incarceration for non-violent young people" • the YCJA structures the decision- making process to a much greater extent than did the YOA and the adult criminal law • the YCJA also distinguishes the role of the youth justice system from the roles of other systems dealing with youth such as: child welfare and mental health Use of the Court • reducing the use of the court is a clear goal of the YCJA • the YCJA encourages the use of extrajudicial measures by specifying several non- court options for police and prosecutors, including: ◦ no further action ◦ informal warnings ◦ cautions ◦ and extrajudicial sanctions • the YCJA provides principles and guidelines that encourage police and prosecutors to reorganize their general approach to responding to youth crime • rather than assume that the normal response is to charge the youth, they must in all cases first assess whether an extrajudicial measure would be appropriate to hold the youth accountable Pre-Trial Detention • The YCJA's goal of reducing incarceration includes reducing the use of pre-trail detention • The underlying policy is that it is unfair to use the criminal justice system to incarcerate youths in order to address there non-criminal behaviour or needs (child welfare, mental health or other social measures) particularly when other youths who are accused of similar offences but do not have such needs would not be detained Sentencing Principles • The YCJA sets out a new approach to youth sentencing that is much more specific and directive than either the YOA or the criminal code • the purpose of youth sentencing under the YCJA is to hold a youth accountable for the offence by imposing sanctions that are just, have meaningful consequences for the youth and promote rehabilitation-- therefore will contribute to the long- term protection of the public • Denunciation, deterrence and incapacitation which are sentencing objectives for adults under the Criminal Code ARE NOT sentencing objectives under the YCJA • the Act is adjusted with research that shows that increasing the severity or length of sentences has no effect on the commission of further crime by the individual offender or other offenders • proportionality is a fundamental sentencing principle of the YCJA: less serious cases should result in less severe sentences and more serious cases should result in more severe sentences • proportionality was not a requirement under the YOA • However, proportionality alone may not reduce the use of custody Adult Sentences • The YCJA eliminates the YOA process of transfer to adult court prior to a finding of guilt • the decision on whether to impose an adult sentence is made in youth court after a finding of guilt on a relatively serious charge • instead of basing the decision to transfer on the 'best interest; of the youth and the protection go society, the YCJA allows an adult sentence ONLY IF, after taking into account that a youth is to be held to a lower level of accountability than an adult, the judge determines that a youth sentence would not be long enough to hold the youth accountable • Amendments to the YOA in 1995 included a presumption that youths, 16 years of age or older, who were charged with certain very serious offence
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