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SOC310H5 (39)
Chapter 4

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Abigail Salole

Chapter 4: From the YOA to the YCJA Introduction  YOA of 1984  JDA (Juvenile Delinquents Act of 1908 managed disobedient youth according to belief in young offender rehabilitation ; written by W.L. Scott  YOA focused largely on incarceration and court interventions Department of Justice Committee on Juvenile Delinquency  First indication of heightened concern about youth crime among members of federal government established by DJCJD  Committee formed in 1961 to investigate juvenile justice and suggest possible improvements ; committee formed because governments and politicians were concerned about potential increase in juvenile crime that would inevitably follow in wake of coming of age of baby-boom generation  Diversionary programs- channeled young people away from formal YCJA to programs such as peer mediation for adolescents in conflict at school; based on belief that removing first time or non-serious offenders from YCJA mitigated stigmatizing effect that may grow from criminal-justice processing Labeling Theory, Youth, and Bill C192  Conceptualize the deviant as “one to whom a label has successfully been applied”  If a label is not applied to criminal actions, they remain primary deviance (kind of wayward behaviour that vast majority of public engage in)  When deviant behaviour is labeled, it has a subtle but significant effect of youth’s and other’s perception of themselves  Secondary deviance- when a young person comes to accept the label “criminal” and continues to engage in behaviour that conditioned it  Underlying logic of labeling theory maintains that wherever possible, diversion from formal intervention is the preferred course  Bill C192 introduced by federal government in 1970 and reflected many of the DJCJD’s concerns Criticismsof JDA • informality of the court process • reliance on indeterminate sentences • provincial variatio nin age jurisdictions • too "soft" on some offenderswhile too "hard" on others • includsion of status offences • inconsistent application of law across the country • tensions between social/child welfare concerns and legal principles • little protection of juvenile offenders'rights Moving Toward YOA  Responsibility for criminality slowly coming to be considered as embedded in young people themselves  Potential abuse of young offenders’ rights under JDA  Federal government mandated that Charter set uniform upper age limit throughout the country YOA becomes Law  Passed in 1982; same year as Charter  Declaration of Principles- intended to guide implementation and provide advice on how to interpret act’s spirit and philosophy  Principles around which juvenile justice officials were to navigate included: o Crime prevention o Accountability and responsibility of young persons o Protection of society o Limited maturity and special needs of young people o Rehabilitation of young offenders o Restraint in application of law o Least possible interference with children’s freedom o Special guarantees of rights and freedoms of the young person o Primary responsibility of parents for their children  These principles are broad and sometimes conflicting and YOA provides little guidance as to how to choose among them or balance them  Balancing needs of young people and need to protect public from excess of youth crime o This balance to be implemented in light of resolution of dichotomous issues: youth’s accountability for their actions with society’s protection from crime with least possible interference with individual’s freedom  Biggest problem with YOA faced in late 1980s was that it was not tough enough on juvenile crime- sentences were too short, young offenders being shielded by their rights and too few young people transferred to adult court where they experience full force of justice system o **the act’s lack of deterrence**  YOA’ history characterized by amendment- act augmented in 1986 to allow easier implementation and simple record-keeping and also permission to publish identifying information to help in apprehension of dangerous offenders o Act later amended in response to act’s inability to effectively manage violent crime and protect the public; changes meant to increase penalties for violent crime and facilitate transfer to adult court o Changes took place rather slowly because there was no sense of urgency o i.e. maximum sentence for murder increased from 3 to 5 years less a day o **changes meant to toughen YOA by cracking down on violent and serious young offenders**  Bill C-37 introduced in 1994 to toughen up approach to juvenile justice (“public protection must be our primary objective in dealing with young offenders”) o The bill was a compromise containing provisions intended to satisfy progressive wing of Liberal party and law advocates within the part o Also a response to public demand that something be done about youth crime o Meet public demands for safety and protection from violent crime o **represented government’s final attempt to improve the YOA** Youth Criminal Justice Act: A Strategy for the Renewal of Youth Justice  Fuelled by media representations of heinous crimes, citizens grew impatient with YCJS that failed to protect them from violent youth crime  YOA became symbol for all that was “wrong with youth today”- failed to adequately deter young people from crime and didn’t allow for appropriate punishments o Youth rights guaranteed under Charter and incorporated within the YOA shielded you
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