The Reasons For The Creation Of The Youth Criminal Justice Act

The Young Offenders Act, like the current Youth Criminal Justice Act, applied to persons who were over the age of twelve years and under the age of eighteen when they were charged with an offence.

During the 17 years of enforcing the Young Offenders Act, problems and issues with the act became apparent. The Youth Criminal Justice Act is intended to improve on the Young Offenders Act, to keep what was good and to resolve the difficulties that became clear.

Some of the problems that were identified in the youth justice system included a lack of a clear and coherent philosophy or statement of goals and a lack of clear distinction between serious and less serious offences. There was a problem, too, with the transfer between youth and adult court because the criteria were unclear.

The Young Offenders Act also resulted in an overuse of incarceration for young people. When the statistics were examined it was discovered that Canada had the highest youth incarceration rate of the western world, including the United States. Analysts also discovered that there were no effective reintegration strategies to help young people get back into society after being jailed or incarcerated. They found that the courts were being overused for minor cases and that there was a disparity in sentencing decisions that resulted in unfairness and uncertainty as to what is going to happen in individual cases. The system was criticized, as well, for not giving sufficient recognition or participation to the concerns and interests of the victims.

These are essentially the concerns that have been addressed in the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

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If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with criminal law issues in the Newmarket, Ontario Region, contact Hobson & Reeve Barrsiters for a consultation.

This article is taken from a April 10, 2008 interview with Dennis Reeve, Criminal Lawyer with Hobson & Reeve Barristers, an Newmarket, Ontario Criminal Law Firm. Note that laws vary from province to province. Please consult with a lawyer in your own area to be sure of the laws and specific issues in your own jurisdiction.