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The Canadian Youth Criminal Justice Act 2003: A Step Forward for Advocates of Restorative Justice

Charbonneau, Serge
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) In Elizabeth Elliott and Robert M. Gordon, eds., New Directions in Restorative Justice: Issues, Practice, Evaluation. Cullompton, UK: Willan Publishing. Pp. 75-86.

Restorative justice involves both the process and the outcome in responding to juvenile offending. The primary outcome sought in restorative justice in the repairing of harms done by the offense. These harms impact not only the victim but also the offender and the community. Processes for achieving desired outcomes typically include mediation, victim/offender meetings, conflict resolution circles, healing circles, and family conferencing. These are designed to improve communication among the parties and facilitate cooperative planning in remedying harms. The YCJA assists restorative justice processing by creating new categories of offenses that call for special forms of treatment and particular sentences. A presumption is built into the legislation that nonviolent offenses will be addressed outside of formal judicial processing; however, violent offenses will continue to be processed by traditional means. The YCJA also includes a presumption that an adult sentence will be imposed on juveniles found guilty of a presumptive offense (murder, attempt to commit murder, manslaughter, and aggravated sexual assault). This provision reflects the traditional belief that punitive adult sentences are effective, which disregards the principles of restorative justice. Thus, the YCJA could lead to diversified practices that have nothing in common with a restorative justice approach. Many of the dispositions of the YCJA apparently increase formal social control and widen the criminal justice net. Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


AbstractCourtsJuvenileLiving RestorativelyNorth America and CaribbeanPoliceRJ in SchoolsRJ OfficeStatutes and Legislation
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