Youth Criminal Justice Act

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When someone mentions the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), some would argue that there is no purpose for it. Some believe that the age boundary is inappropriate; some believe that children should not have reduced sentences and special rights; and some may think that a youth’s criminal record should be accessible in the future. If one would look at all of the positive aspects, statistics, and examples that apply to the YCJA, then they would better appreciate the statute that applies to the young adults of Canada.

When one reads into the YCJA, they will find that it applies to children between the ages of twelve to seventeen (Justice Canada, 2003). Some would argue that this age is either too high or too low to make children criminally responsible for their actions. Even dating back to the 1800’s, children were treated a lot like adults (Capelli, 2007). This was often done around the age of twelve. Whenever children disobeyed their parents or the law they were often punished on an adult level. This applies back to present day, where the YCJA applies to children aged twelve to seventeen. To add onto the argument, modern research has proven that children under the age of 18 have not fully established their maturity in the brain yet, and should not be held responsible for their crimes (Beckman, 2004). A lot of the YCJA is based on the fact that it is providing a “second chance” for children, as they do not fully understand the consequences and procedures that they have to go through after committing a crime. This research has also shown that people do not fully develop their brain until the age of nineteen to twenty years old, which is also when the YCJA does not apply to children anymore. The age that the YCJA applies to is appropriate and provides youth a second chance to understand what they did wrong.

It is written in the YCJA that every youth criminal has special rights and more lenient sentences (Justice Canada, 2003). Special rights could be having a...
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