The Young Offender's Act Debate

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Under fire from the date of its creation, the debate over the validity of the Young Offender's Act continues. Should the YOA remain in its current form as a part of the Canadian legal system? An examination of the reasons it is seen as being ineffective, the need for change, and the suggested amendments and substitutes will provide an accurate picture of the situation from which a conclusion can be drawn. The young offenders act in its current form is nearly optimal. However, there enough reasons for its alteration that a serious consideration of amendments should be considered.

There are a number of reasons why the YOA has been seen as ineffective. There is, in the public, a widespread perception that the YOA is not working at all. This is due to the large amount of misinformation that is sensationalized ruthlessly by the media (Good 1998 7). High profile cases of violent offenders leak, and, lacking details, the media presents an incomplete account of details to the public. As a result some people think that there are kids who know how to "beat the system" and are now out committing crimes with no fear of being seriously reprimanded. But, as one analyst and researcher reports "There are virtually no data … that would permit an examination of this assumption" (Peterson-Badali and Koegl 1998 p127). Since once of the functions of the act is to protect the public, their fears are one a problem that needs to be addressed in any amendments that may go forward.

There is, however, debate over the need for change. Some say the current act is much too easy on youths and that they're getting away with too much. There are reasons situations, such as these misinterpreted ones, have come about. The YOA was designed keeping youth protection in mind, and experts in the area tend to refer to the fact that "…repeated studies have shown that it is not the severity of punishment which deters crime, but the certainty of it" (Daunt 1998 7). Therefore it is not...
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