Juvenile Justice Act

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Introduction
Historical context
Punishment was the central criminal law philosophy in English common law. A conclusive presumption that children under seven could not form criminal intent eliminated the youngest from the criminal justice system. Children between the ages of seven and fourteen were presumed incompetent to form the requisite criminal intent; the prosecutor, however, could rebut that presumption by demonstrating that the child knew the difference between right and wrong. Children over age fourteen were presumed to have the capacity to form criminal intent. There were no special courts for children, and they were treated as adult criminals. Minors were arrested, held in custody, and tried and sentenced by a court that had discretion to order the child imprisoned in the same jail as adult criminals. Although children received the same punishment as adults, they were not provided with many of the due process protections accorded adult criminals. For instance, minors did not have a right to "bail, indictment by grand jury, [and] right to a public trial." Although the early American colonies adopted the English common laws regarding child criminals, from 1825 until 1899 several reform movements initiated significant changes both in philosophy and in treatment of juvenile delinquents. Quaker reformers spurred the New York Legislature in 1824 to pass legislation creating a House of Refuge, which separated poor children and juvenile delinquents from adult criminals. The goal of the House of Refuge movement was both to prevent predelinquents from becoming criminals and to reform those who had already committed crimes. The judge had discretion to determine which juvenile delinquents might properly benefit from the House of Refuge; child criminals unlikely to reform were maintained in adult prisons. Juvenile justice attitudes change from time to time, from reformers to protect the rights of youths, to moral panics caused by increased criminality, prompting tougher measures on juveniles. What is the YCJA?

The YCJA is the Youth Criminal Justice Act. It governs the administration of justice for youth who commit crimes. The YCJA replaced the Young Offenders Act (YOA) on April 1st, 2003. Who does the YCJA apply to? Why?

The YCJA applies to youth who are 12 to 17 years of age inclusive. A person is considered an adult at the age of 18. Under criminal law, youth need to be treated separately from adults because of their dependency, level of maturity, and level of development. In Canada, a person under the age of 12 cannot be charged with a crime. What does the YCJA emphasize?

The YCJA emphasizes rehabilitation and reintegration. It also recognizes the importance of timely intervention. Rehabilitation addresses the problems that led the youth to commit the crime, so that he or she does not commit further offences. How does the YCJA deal with youth crime?

The YCJA is intended to: prevent crime, rehabilitate and reintegrate youth in the community so they can turn their lives around, and ensure that youth face meaningful consequences for their actions in order to promote the long-term protection of the public. Meaningful consequences

Meaningful consequences are measures the youth justice system takes that must be fair and in proportion to the seriousness of the offence. Meaningful consequences should, (1) Address the offending behaviour of the youth; (2) be meaningful to the youth; (3) reinforce respect for societal values; (4) encourage repair of the harm done to victims and the community; (5) respect gender, ethnic, cultural and linguistic differences; and (6) be responsive to the needs and circumstances of Aboriginal youth and youth with special requirements Rights of the youth

Just like adults going through the criminal justice system, youths have due process rights, including, specifically, the right to be heard and participate in decisions that affect them. Rights in court

Youth have the right to: Retain counsel...
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