Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA)

1070 Words5 Pages
The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) is the law that governs Canada's youth justice system. It applies to youth ages 12-17, who are alleged to have committed criminal offences. It became effective on April 1, 2003, completely replacing Canada’s previous legislation, the Youth Offenders Act (YOA). The YCJA addressed a multitude of concerns that the YOA failed to cover including “ the overuse of the courts and incarceration in less serious cases, disparity and unfairness in sentencing, a lack of effective reintegration of young people released from custody, and the need to better take into account the interests of victims.” Our new act now focuses on the rehabilitation and reintegration of youth into society, and considers what unrelated activities…show more content…
Which would you pick? Majority would select community service, and for a valid reason. Community service is simply picking up garbage or volunteering at a facility, only to return comfortable back at home at the end of the day. But prison, prison is a hostile place with rigid, unchanging mealtimes, malevolent cellmates, and intimidating guards. Now I ask you, which method of punishment would convince you to alter your behavior, community service or prison? This brings me to the point of punishment and consequences. If the consequence isn’t as menacing compared to the reward you might receive, what’s the real harm in committing a crime? Our naive mentality on teen behavior is precisely why the rate of youths charged with violent crimes has “jumped 30 per cent since 1991.” Because the risk and rewards of a crime, has outweighed the punishments and consequences we assign to…show more content…
Teens understand that their crimes will only receive a minimal sentence before they are even brought before a judge. A teen interviewed by The Compass stated to "Go ahead and call the cops. I don't care, I'm not worried about them. They can't touch me anyway 'cause I'm only 16. What's a week or so at the reform school? No big deal eh?” This attitude leads me to believe that our “rehabilitative” programs, are basically like time outs to these rebellious youth instead of the effective correctional tool we envision it to be. Another questionable characteristic of teens is their decision making. Laurence Steinberg, a researcher at Temple University in Philadelphia says that "During early adolescence in particular, teenagers are drawn to the immediate rewards of a potential choice and are less attentive to the possible risks.” and it is also stated by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry that “the frontal cortex, the area of the brain that controls reasoning and helps us think before we act, develops later in teens. This part of the brain is still changing and maturing well into adulthood.” No matter how much counselling we provide to teens, we're unable to speed up the development of a youth’s brain. It is also an undeniable fact that youth do not possess the maturity to sufficiently understand the consequences of their actions; and with youth having a better developed reward sector compared to their control and judgement

More about Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA)

Open Document