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Chapter 1

Sociology 2267A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Youth Criminal Justice Act, Young Offenders Act, Juvenile Delinquency

Course Code
SOC 2267A/B
Lisa Lyons

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Chapter 1- The Rise and Fall of Delinquency:
Public issues- matters of public concern that are debated in a variety of forums and
usually involve demands for action
3 distinct periods in Canadian history discussed: pre-Confederation period, kids and
youth treated same as adults; Victorian period, behav and well-being kids and youth
became subject of concern and post-Victorian period, youthful offenders separated from
adults in an attempt to prevent them from dev crim lifestyle that could last a lifetime
The public issue:
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
Newspaper headlines continuously warn of a serious crime problem if approp steps are
not taken to curb youth crime
1990s warned of imminent danger and horrific crim deeds young CNs, end 1990s
concerns about violent events involving girls, moved into 21st century school violence
added to list of horrors presented about youth behav and seemingly unconcerned youth
Media and the politics of youth crime:
Politics of youth- ways in which youth crime understood and talked about, both formally
and informally and the actions, laws and policies that derive from this discourse
Adult crimes far surpass youth crimes, both in quality and severity and amount emphasis
on youth violence disproportionate to amount youth crime actually involves violence of
serious nature
Rate youth crime began decreasing 2002 and decreased 14% and crim and violent
activity primary focus stories about youth, although property crime (18%) (not violent)
accounted about half YC- emphasis more in newspapers not online
Gen consensus seemed be youth justice under Young Offenders Act (YOA) was slap on
the wrist- politicians in 1993fed election presented YC and YOA as serious probs
Juvenile justice system- system of laws, policies and practices designed under guiding
philosophy that children and youth, b/c of age and maturity, should not be subject to crim
law in same manner as adults
By 2001, Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), Bill C-3, poised replace YOA and after
lengthy consultative process and parliamentary discussion, YCJA came into effect April
2003- still being told youth violence out of control (2006 fed election)
Told swarmers could be future killers and element young people out of control and
accountable no one= pack mentality and joyriding reframed major threat to public safety
Legislation came under attack again- nothing changed, YCJA still slap on wrist
Public demanding tougher sentences violent crime and fed gov shortening sentences-
cont until Conservatives revised YCJA and came into effect Oct 23, 2012
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Two opposing sides:
1995 YOA reforms involved Strategy for Reform of entire youth justice system, involved
consultations w public and special-interest groups
Youth advocates primarily concerned w problems exp by young people rather than w
YC= exaggerated and misrep in most public accounts- showed stats flattened out and
youth being treated far more harshly under YOA than ever were under former legislation,
Juvenile Delinquents Act (JDA)
Exception most serious offences murder and manslaughter, youth treated at least as
harshly as adults comm same offences
Youth advocates pref policies would address pov and high youth unemployment rather
than focus on punitive measures
Law-and-order group viewed children and youth accused of crimes as an enemy from
whom adults needed protection= out of control and fav get-tough approach- both youth
and YOA prob
Youth prob b/c: lack respect anyone/ anything, lack sense resp crim behav and
increasingly involved violent crim behav
YOA prob: youth couldn’t be ident, youth not punished for crimes, more rights than
victims and too protected by YOA
Portrayed by media as remorseless and lacking feeling= superpredator
Theresa McEvoy killed by 16 y/o during high speed chase from police- released 2 days
before after pleading guilty prior theft and car chase accident and also arrest warrant
existed sim charges 3 months prior
McEvoy fam interested in systematic and individ failures leading to release youth 2 days
prior Ts death, extent YCJA provisions cont release youth and role service providers in
responding at-risk youth both before and after youth’s crim activity
Focus of forum (10 years later) still same and views presented still law-and-order and
youth advocate camps
o Law-and-order- youth involvement in car theft problematized and youth serial car
theft, joyriding main reason car theft and thieves young 60-70% cases and take
pride in crimes (outweighed)
o YCJA goes overboard reducing custody, too much reliance comm punishment,
too many chances, judges cant jail youth need it and need ability lock up kids
o Advocacy- very lost boy, nothing wrong w act, at-risk kids need more support and
not enough resources from prov to do job and prob lies in comm and schools
Case took 15 months process, even though pleaded guilty- got 5.5 adult sentence crim
negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death (reduced 1 year time
served course trial and sentencing)
“The good old days”:
Crime stats, as far back as 1885, indicate young people have always been involved in
crim activity, some of it serious violent crime
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Always been resp considerably smaller amount of crim activity than adults and most
offences involved petty property crime- this pattern crim activity est in early pioneer days
Rate of involvement in Crim code violations and all violent crime violations decreased
Some part horrendous, many people don’t know horrendous crimes occurred in past too
Hist data on youth crime and public responses not readily avail, since youth crime stats
not always kept in manner are today
Prison records provide source info youth crime, but ages not always recorded
No consistent prison records until 1835, year Kingston penitentiary opened
Primary data- research info gathered directly from orig source
Secondary data- research info/ data orig collected for another purpose (few academic
analyses youth crime provide)
Analyses scant b/c seemed more interested in justice system than actual behav kids and
youth- rely on work historians not criminologists
Lawless and disobedient youth: The 17th and 18th centuries:
Can never know actual incidence law-breaking among youth during period, what info is
avail indicates that concerns were expressed about youth as a prob in NA colonies as
early as 17th cent
Earliest European records reported majority doc cases petty nature- young people were
involved in serious crime and murders, but ages often not recorded
Children in European soc have had dif legal status than adults- no rights and mercy
parents and state- infanticide, child slavery and child labour common
Idea kids had rights as individ indep of parents/ had right to protection from adults didn’t
gain popularity until 19th cent
About 11th cent English common law recog child’s capacity understand wrongfulness
crime lim- kids under 7 considered lack capacity commit crime, evidence of capacity
required convict 7-13 but 7 y/o charged w crimes, tried in court w adults and faced same
punishment upon conviction
First European settler executed in territories CN 16 y/o girl guilty theft in 1640
Shouldn’t conclude children always/ usually treated exactly like adults in colonial justice
system, usually shown even greater degree of mercy than adult
The colonial public issue:
In Europe children subservient to adults and dependent on parents but rural and working-
class children had considerable independence from their parents= parental auth sig
undermined by this arrangement and lack of authority evident in young people’s behav
(sig threat to authority)
“Causes” and solutions: An era of control and punishment:
Hist docs colonial period 2 factors causes youth crime: parents and fur trade
Overindulgent parents often cited administrators as reason youth probs
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