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SOC310H5 (39)
Chapter 3

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Abigail Salole

Chapter 3 Responding to youth crime: Historical Origins of Juvenile Justice Legislation Introduction  Approaches to punishing juveniles: mere punishment (like adult criminals) or rehabilitation and guiding o Mere goal of punishment is the only principle of penology applied by man  Canada did not always have a juvenile court and did not differentiate between juvenile deviance and adult criminality o A young person came before the same judges, received the same punishments and was sentenced to the same institutions as their adult counterparts o Young peoplthfound guilty th criminal code violations suffered harsh and sometimes arbitrary penalties  Focusing on mid 19 C and early 20 C  “the [disobedient] behaviour of [unruly] young people came to be understood as “juvenile delinquency” around the turn of the 20 century’ (pg. 40)  Separate system for governing youth people’s behaviour was gendered- linked to particular conceptions of masculinity and femininity; youth delinquency cast as a “boy problem” o Separate juvenile justice system as a whole was primarily conceived of, established by, and operated by men for boys; **female young offenders were an afterthought** Social Reformers and Governance Strategies  Social reformers of 19 C questioned wisdom of dominant governance practices and created separate juvenile system; recognition that juvenile offenders should be treated differently and be subject to distinct set of laws, institutions, and practices lead to implementation of Juvenile Delinquents Act (JDA) in 1908  Symbolized first formalized juvenile justice system and break from classical legal governance (generalized system of settlement and punishment) moving to more modern legal governance (particular system based on knowledge of offender rather than his criminal conduct)  Legal pluralism (existence of multiple legal systems within one geographic area); informal mechanisms of social control and customary laws continued to operate at this time of shift  Informal governance- shaming, church discipline and other community based strategies o Charivari (sliwaree)- mocking of culprits by an entourage of masked serenades  Objectivist approach: delinquency as a problem because teen’s antisocial behaviour and criminal conduct became dangerous to broader society as a whole  Social constructionist perspective: juvenile delinquency becomes a problem when defined as such by social reformers; become problematic when it is labelled as such by authorized knowers Early Perspectives  Agreement among adults in society that somehow youth population is poorly behaved and more problematic than in the past o Due to media discourse- focusing on the bad rather than the good  Moral panic about youth crime (Stanley Cohen); overreaction to forms of deviance or wrongdoing resulting from claims made about particular groups being threat to moral order  Idea of “good old days” when youth were more cooperative is a myth Childhood and Juvenile Delinquency  Childhood not always understood as distinct status or period of life  Meaning of childhood changed over time o Came along with new response for deathng with misdeeds of children  Childhood discovered in western Europe in 17 C o Children seen as “little adults” and made few social/cultural distinctions on basis of age (juvenile delinquent becomes a miniature criminal) o High infant mortality rate discouraged parents from forming strong bonds with their children (protecting parents from any tragic loss)  Philippe Aries- childhood is a cultural artifact rather than a biological imperative; as a cultural artifact, childhood is socially constructed and not biologically based o Suggests a connection between changing adult images of childhood and development of modern thinking about juvenile delinquency and its treatment Generalized Justice: Classical Legal Governance  Earliest form of youth regulation can be considered classical legal governance (pg. 45) o General approach that made little distinction between young and adult offenders o Mainly concerned with establishing guilt/innocence o Two fundamental conditions had to met for crime to have occurred: 1. An act that violates criminal law statutes must take place (actor reus) 2. Individual whose behaviour contravened law must have mental capacity or criminal intent to fully appreciate consequence of his conduct  Before confederation, Canadian criminal law handled young people over age of 7 in same manner as adult offenders, with one exception: doli incapax (incapable of wrongdoing) o Those over 14 considered mature enough to understand consequences of their actions  Children between 7-14 thought to possess diminished ability to appreciate implications of behaviour and were assumed to be to doli incapax unless Crown could prove mens rea o Doli incapax: since children under age of 7 were presumed to be immature to form requisite intent for criminality, they were immune from prosecution  Young people received only minimal consideration for their age and the penalties for criminal conduct were extremely harsh  Guilty verdicts almost solely based on young person’s behaviour with little attention given to life experiences, social positions, mental state or age  Retribution: punishment deserved “an eye for an eye”  Deterrence: preventing crime through threat or fear of punishment  Liberal attitude guiding generalized justice was that offenders were hedonistic, rational and calculating actors who weighed the benefits and consequences of conduct before engaging in unlawful behaviour (pg. 46)  Children also put into adult prisons while awaiting trial Toward a Separate Juvenile Justice System th  Several factors during mid-to late 19 C that led to development of separate juvenile justice system  Four main factors: socio-economic climate, social reformers and movements, social welfare penalty, and anti- institutional discourse Socio-economic climate: • urbanization and industrialization reshaped social, economic, and political immigration, urbanization, and climate after the Confederation industrialization • large population growth • population of the urban poor grew significantly as well • reformers saw the impoverished and working class as threat to emerging canadian nationa given their connection to the labour market • struggle became how to manage large number of juvenile immigrants Brown Commission • Brown Commission- represented move toward new way of thinking about legal governance of deviant children; new conceptualization of young people and their criem and corresponding shift in how to respond to them • investigation of Kingston Penitentiary found harsh conditions and recognized problematic nature of housing young poeple with adults • argued for immediate action of behalf of juvenile delinquents • 1857 passed two legislations: An act for the more speedy trial and punishment of young persons (allowed for reformatory prisons in Upper and Lower Canada) • view that punishment must have greater purpose than incapacitation (incarceration not for what people have done but to prevent future harm), retribution or deterrence • Brown Commission and resulting legislation led to emergence of new way of thinking youth as separate category of offender and recognition that juvenile offenders need separate institutions • Isle aux Noix established in Quebec as first separate institution • Penetanguishene Reformatory • young deviants no longer considered criminals but thought as misguided children as products of their social environment; intervention could lead child to reshape and lead productive life Social Reform Movements  those who were economically and socially privileged; called for changes to existing juvenile justice practices to reflect unique conditions of youths  put working-class parents at centre of youthful deviance problem  argued that delinquent parents failing to raise law-abiding children by not viewing education as important and allowing children to wander aimlessly; saw immigration as central to problem of juvenile delinquency Public School Movement and Child Welfare  move toward compulsory education extended period of dependency Reformatories and Refuges  reverse bad effects of children’s home environments  reformatories based on idea that reformation (corrective rehabilitation- oriented practices) rather than punishment was the best antidote to crime
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