Youth Criminal Justice Act

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"The Youth Criminal Justice Act is a piece of Canadian legislation...that determines the way in which youths are prosecuted under Canada's criminal justice system." The act was implemented April 1, 2003, after "7 years, 3 drafts, and more than 160 amendments." The clearly stated purpose of the Youth Criminal Justice Act is "protection of the public through crime prevention, rehabilitation, and meaningful consequences (s.3(1)(a)(I-iii))." For a better understanding on whether the courts were following the Youth Criminal Justice Act's principles in practice, I went to Edmonton Law Courts and sat in on youth court. After reviewing the act in theory and practice, I argue that the Youth Criminal Justice Act is doing a fair job in fulfilling its' purpose, but does need some improvements.

The Youth Criminal Justice Act is the 3rd act implemented in Canada for dealing with youth in conflict with the law. Many of the act's principles were borrowed from it's predecessors, the Young Offender's Act and the Juvenile Delinquent Act. "The YCJA builds on the strengths of the YOA and introduces significant reforms that address weaknesses in the YOA. The YCJA provides the legislative framework for a fairer and more effective youth justice system." "The key objectives of the YCJA include clear and coherent principles to guide decision-making in youth justice matters; increased use of measure outside the formal court process...; fairness in sentencing...; a more targeted approach to the use of custody for young people...; an improvement in the system's ability to rehabilitate and reintegrate young offenders; clear distinction between serious violent offences and less serious offences; [and] special measures for violent offenders that focus on intensive supervision and treatment."

So how are these objectives of The Youth Criminal Justice Act being followed through in practice? The first case I seen was in docket court. A 16 year old Aboriginal girl was brought in with...
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