The Great Youth Criminal Justice Act Debate
The Act went into force April 1, 2003
YCJA - Youth Criminal Justice Act
Too many Canadians have a black and white viewpoint of youth criminal justice.
The Black-and-white viewpoint of Canadian Society
An opinion piece
By: M. Biss
Society always manages to challenge my belief system. However, it is painfully obvious that human nature is not perfect, a new realization sprang to my belief lately; even the most left wing ecologist will (most likely) think of a person arrested of a crime as an evil, deranged creep who has tattoos covering their body. Why is it that in Canada (with its strong reputation of peace-loving kindness) there is such a black and white filing system of stereotypes?
We all know that people are human, so why is it that society today, especially that of the youth, believes that a person arrested of a crime must be immediately categorized as a criminal? Maybe it's the fault of police T.V. shows or local newspapers, which view police officers as the cowboys and a "young offender" as an evildoer? Is it within our schools in which we learn that there is a good and a bad, by having a right and wrong way to follow rules? Reality is, however, there is no black-hearted, soulless teenager, just some people who have had the opportunity in their lives to come across the chance and intentions to commit a crime.
In Canada, as well as the United States of America, one crime can be put onto a criminal record and therefore restricts any one person whom has this record any chance to work, buy a house or even travel. If a jails purpose is to hold and reconstruct these people, then why is it that we disallow them to re-enter the community? Does this mean we have little faith in our jails, and if so, why do we send people to them?
Every above point can easily be contradicted with one word; safety. We like walking in our neighborhoods at night knowing that most of those ex-thieves won't be tempted to hurt us. The idea of our children working with a person who is was a former child molester is frightening. The comforting thought of these people locked up in a jail far away is too tempting, and society is more afraid than sympathetic towards any offender.
However, safety as the top necessity in courtrooms can be influenced with by this thought; a person can be convicted, even if innocent. All those human errors within the "criminal" society also are common to judges and jury's, therefore an innocent person or even a person convicted of a small error in judgment could have that scar their entire life. Therefore, the question is what is more important to our society: justice or safety?
Thus, my question is; how is it we separate ourselves? How can one put another human being into a category in which they even after leaving a society in which there must be redemption, how can they not deserve to have the opportunities in which we enjoy daily? How does our society improve itself by not giving others in society a chance to improve themselves? How is it that society can use the presence of a criminal record to decide what type of person we will always be?
Please submit your opinion to the above article, (if required) use these questions as guidelines:
1. In your own situation what is more important; safety or justice? Why?
2. Does jail rehabilitate a person into a positive productive member of society?
3. Do we really want to give people criminal records for life?
Well, as the mother of four young children, safety is the most important, useful thing for any society!Without it then how could I ever trust my chidren to even leave the door a they scamper off to school every morning. how could I know that the bus driver isn't an ex-killer without a criminal record check!And oviously jail improves a society, it keeps those bad people away from me and my community! I say if a person commits a crime they should pay the time!
It is a black-and-white situation. The vast majority of Canadians abide by the rules and do not commit any crimes. That's the deal. If someone willingly chooses to commit a crime, they break their part of the "social contract" and should face the consequences.
A few comments on your opinion piece if I may;
- ..."just some people who have had the opportunity in their lives to come across the chance and intentions to commit a crime."
Most people will choose not to act upon that "opportunity". Some consciously choose to do so and should be held accountable for their decision.
- ... "Does this mean we have little faith in our jails, and if so, why do we send people to them?"
No, it means we have little faith in the people who have chosen to ignore the law and in their willingness to not re-offend.
-..."How does our society improve itself by not giving others in society a chance to improve themselves?"
Should these individuals who seek to "improve themselves" not have respected others and the law to start with ? Improved themselves before commiting crimes by deciding to respect others' rights and property ?
..."How is it that society can use the presence of a criminal record to decide what type of person we will always be?"
Because that person chose to break the social contract and can no longer be trusted to abide by the rules of civilized society the vast majority of Canadians respect and obey. They have willingly demonstrated their lack of respect for others and the rules that govern us all and can no longer be trusted.
I can only add my opinion, however I feel that if the Government,the State,the community, and parents gave a little more time and a little more money to give children half a chance to be happy and interested we wouldn't have alot of the crime we have now. Crime of course would not stop completely but why are we so ready to spend 100's of thousands of dollars to jail and prosecute but we won't spend thousands to give youths an arcade room or after school activities or Mentors. Inprisonment does not re-habilitate anyone.If anything it makes them worse it makes all those bad feelings or beliefs that led them to crime to reserfice again and again and again for everyday that they are there, sometimes with abuse. Who knows when it will change or even if it will ever change but I feel like the children, the youth need more love and attention to be better,responsible people. The "Fat-cats" don't see it because they don't want to. Without crime there is no lawyers,no judges,no laws,no money. Good luck to everyone whatever their situation.
i have been in jail for a total of 13 years and 11 months most for roberies i was on trial for murder but got off now.. having said that, when you get a crim record, it is impossible to get a job so u re offend, and re offend, and re offend jail does nothing but teach u how to be a better criminal i was lucky when i was in there, my father who is serving a life sentence for 3 murders got me to the "in gang" so i flown through jail, nobody f*cked with me..
i hate how a man with jail house tattoos is automaticly "chucked" from society or a crim record both for life
jails all over the world *dont* work and the saftey in jail is not right i new kids. vounerable kids, only 18-19 (yes there still only young) put in cell's with f*cking child molesterors, so then whats your view point? one kid who was 18 was in a cell (jail) with a child-molesteror when he was only serving a 2 month sentence for not paying speeding fines now... he did get raped, and he now has aids, how can that be justice? did he deserve to go to jail. and be put in them situations.... i ask u, too any body who hasnt been to jail, go, u have no right to judge how it is in there till u been.
Just to note, we do not give people criminal records for life. Under the Criminal Records Act anyone that stays out of trouble for a reasonable period(4yrs I think) can apply for a pardon and except for serious crimes, usually receive pardons and their records are in essence expunged and only can be used if that person is convicted of another subsequent offence. Therefore, people that change and improve their lives can have their records cleared, only those that continue to offend with some regularity are subject to 'records for life'.
Editor's Comment: See the Criminal Records Act respecting applications for pardons for adults only. See the Youth Criminal Records Act respecting use of youth records. But what happens if notwithstanding the federal legislation, others including provincial governments, employers, police services, or foreign governments make use of the youth records many years later. I have seen a number of cases where youth records were used against an individual many years after they were deemed but not actually destroyed. There is no one database of youth court records that can be erased. What if only the RCMP purge their database and others do not?
I do not necessarily think that those under 18 should have a criminal record for life, but, clearly, there is something wrong with a system that does not provide justice through a "solution which fits the crime"
Some of these young offenders are committing violent acts against others. Perhaps for some, a criminal record is justified if it continues to be repeated.
I would like to know the statistics regarding the success rate of young offenders in terms of how many recommit crimes out of the total who have been convicted.
The problem with the black and white issue is that most intelligent members of society do not know much about corrections. Most would think that prison is a good option, however, studies show that incarceration is mostly NEGATIVE. One reason is that it increases recidivism in most offenders. Another is that most offenders are not in long enough to complete rehab programs; other times they do not even get to start programs due to back log; and the kicker, they DO NOT have to participate in any program, if they choose not to. Locking up offenders is keeping people safe in the short term because most offenders are coming out eventually.
Jail does not rehabilitate people if anything it makes things worse they learn a different life style and it is hard to live in society normally
Young offenders know what they are doing, they know that it is wrong, but they still choose to do it anyway! That choice is what makes them deserve to go to jail!
Copyright 2018 Stephen Biss
470 Hensall Circle, Suite 303
905-273-3322 or 1-877-273-3322
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