Youth Criminal Justice: Not Punitive Enough

Essay by nitcieUniversity, Bachelor's May 2009

download word file, 10 pages 3.0

The country of Canada has fought to ensure that its youth is protected and brought up to be meaningful members of the country. Regardless of these efforts, there are still young people in Canada that fall into some sort of criminal behaviour. In an attempt to deal with these youths, Canada put into place the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), a bill that holds youths aged twelve to seventeen responsible for their actions. This YCJA is intended, like the adult criminal justice system, to punish the guilty, protect society, and discourage future criminal behaviour from occurring. Before the YCJA was the The Young Offenders Act (YOA). However, it was criticized by many as being unsuccessful in responding to crime and inadequate in protecting society (Winterdyk, 1996). The public felt the YOA was not punitive enough or was too easy on young offenders and too lenient when it came to sentencing them (Winterdyk, 1996).

It was in April 2003 the YOA was replaced with the YCJA, in hopes that this new legislation would be tougher on youth offenders (Bala & Anand, 2004). However, the YCJA ended up placing more emphasis on treatment for young offenders than harsher penalties (Bala & Anand, 2004). One way the did this was through the courts and sentencing. It introduced new provisions one being that the court system is to be used only for serious offences and police officers were instructed to consider alternatives to charges, including issuing verbal warnings. In addition, the Act also introduced graduated sentencing. When a graduated sentence is given, a convicted youth will spend two-thirds of his/her time in custody, and one-third in the community under supervision. The Act imposes adult sentences, if considered appropriate, rather than taking the youth into adult court. Lastly, I will look at the idea of...