Our Response to Amendments for the YCJA

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

This morning Minister of Justice and Attorney General Meter Packay announced proposed revisions to the Youth Criminal Justice Act that would allow adult sentences for young offenders aged 11-14. Under the current YCJA only young offenders ages 14-18 may be considered for adult sentences based on the severity of their crimes. “What it means to be an adolescent in today’s society is changing, and their crimes are changing as well. The current YCJA has sent kids the message that they can get away with whatever they want because they are still developing; this is unacceptable as everyone who puts our society in danger must be held accountable.” Hon. Meter Packay

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Whilst we agree that young offenders should remain accountable for their actions, they should not remain so accountable to the degree of adult sentencing for 11-14 year olds. These young offenders are still developing their worldview and mentality with regards to morals and values. This should be taken into account when young offenders commit crimes. This also gives youth a better opportunity to rehabilitate and reintegrate young offenders back into society, as their mental development isn’t fully completed yet. We disagree with the proposed revisions and believe that the act should not be modified.

Our party believes restorative justice is a more effective way of enforcing law & order than retributive justice, as it gives young offenders a chance to change bad habits and to promote healthy relationships and good habits. Programs have been shown to create lower levels of reoffense than a prison sentence. The YCJA should be focusing on pointing youth in the right direction in their lives as they have an entire future before them, and assisting them in rehabilitating and reintegrating them back into society. Youth offenders aged 11 - 14 live with their families, resulting in a variety of home situations. Many youth offenders in the past have been influenced by the things that occur in their homes and are therefore negatively influenced. These youth deserve a chance to understand what is right and wrong and to experience life outside of the influence of their personal life. Balancing fair consequences with meaningful programs is the purpose of the YCJA and it fulfills this promise.

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3 comments

  1. Feel free to leave comments below!

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  2. You talk about how living at home can have a variety of results for young people, so do you mean that young offenders shouldn't live with their families? What is the alternative? Jail? And, who says that programs have been shown to create lower levels of reoffense? I want a second opinion..

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

      We believe the alternative to young offenders living with their families is for them to partake in a full-time program until they are 'healed'. Afterwards, if there is an abusive parent, they will be taken to court and tried under the law for their behaviour.

      There have been numerous studies which have shown programs often help to lower levels of reoffense. Here's an example from a program from PACT which helped a young offender in Toronto. Another article from Chicago expresses a program which positively impacted many young offenders. The Progressive Socialist Party believes in giving each young offender a chance, and we don't believe that locking them up in a cell for long amounts of time is very much of a chance. We also believe in programs when the child is young, because it has been proven that getting involved in the children's lives early enough can prevent crime later (Zagar, Busch, Hughes).

      Here are some links if you'd like to check it out.
      http://pactprogram.ca/toronto-young-offender-program-gets-troubled-kids-cooking-building-future/
      http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2013/08/07/crime-lab-study-finds-youth-employment-program-has-impact-violent-crime-arrests

      Thanks again!

      Delete

 

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