Policy Analysis: Youth Criminal Justice Act
Issues and Perspectives in Social Welfare
The Youth Criminal Justice Act is a federal legislation that deals with deviance among youth. This policy is the third legislation to come into existence that separate criminal laws and courts for youth and adults. The purpose of this policy is to protect the public, issue purposeful consequences to the offenders, meet the needs of the victims, and distinguish between youth and adult justice. The Youth Criminal Justice Act is still fairly new, as a result its success still has yet to be precisely determined.
Crime and deviance is an avoidable trait that will always exist within society. As a result, measures have been taken to protect members of society by way of minimizing crimes. In previous years, all offenders, young and old were judged under the same law and within the same courts. However, it was eventually recognized that children and adults require separate justice systems. From this discovery, the Youth Criminal Justice Act was eventually developed. The purpose of this Act is to protect the public, issue purposeful consequences to the offenders, meet the needs of the victims, and distinguish between youth and adult justice. This paper will critically analyze this legislation from a number of aspects including a general overview, historically, theoretically, economically, politically and the outcome of the Act thus far. Policy Overview
The Youth Criminal Justice Act addresses a number of issues within the juvenile justice system. First and foremost, it addresses the issue of youth deviance. Moreover, it addresses the philosophy of youth justice and the fact that it fails to adequately articulate its meaning; Canada having the most number of young people incarcerated in the Western Hemisphere; courts being used more than necessary for issues that can be dealt with more effectively outside of the courts; inconsistencies and unjust sentencing; the need for more programs to be in place to assist within the community after being released from custody; youth being unjustly transferred to the adult justice system; the lack of distinction between serious and less serious crimes; and the lack of intention placed on the concerns and needs of victims. (Endres, 2004) The causes for these problems can be identified in a number of areas. Many assume that more Canadian youth are incarcerated than in past years and in comparison to the United States due to an increase in youth criminal activity (McCormick and Siegel, 2006). However, this is not the case. The cause of an increased level of youth imprisonment was that the previous act, The Young Offenders Act, was too punitive based (Endres, 2004). It focused on punishment rather than rehabilitation, family support and other community resources. Another concern was the lack of reintegration for youth once they have been released from custody. This is caused by a lack of programs in place to assist this process, which is connected to a decrease in the amount of financial contribution from the federal government (Campbell, 2005). The courts were used unnecessarily with youth cases because Canada relied on court and custody based responses for non-violent crimes instead of using community resources such as family group conferencing (Campbell, 2005). The unfairness in youth sentencing and transfers to the adult justice system was likely the result of inconsistencies among judges (Campbell, 2005). Each province and their judges held a great deal of power in determining consequences for breaking the law (Campbell, 2005). The cause for the line between serious and less serious offences to be smeared is simple; the Young Offenders Act was not detailed enough (Roberts, 2003). In the end, decisions were often based on mere discretion. As for the lack of concern for victims, this was caused due to the focus of the Young Offenders Act...