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The Youth Criminal Justice Act: Implementing Restorative Provisions

Van Helvoirt, Trent
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in the School of Criminology. Simon Fraser University. Downloaded 21 August 2003.

As the popularity and use of restorative justice continues to increase, many advocates express concern about the possible co-optation and dilution of the restorative philosophy. This is especially evident in Canada with the implementation of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The Canadian government has decided to incorporate restorative provisions in the new Act due to frustration with the current way of doing things and the increased need to recognize victim issues. However, there are many potential problematic situations that may occur when implementing restorative initiatives, particularly in a legislated context.
The rapidly growing literature on restorative justice identifies a plethora of potential dangers. Through exploratory research, a number of these problematic issues are identified and discussed in specific relation to the YCJA and the Canadian situation. These potential downfalls include: accessibility of resources, funding issues, offender-oriented agencies and staff, the role of professionals and youth justice workers, marginalization and McDonaldization, community involvement, evaluation efforts, and issues regarding the public, the media and politicians. Three youth justice conferences were attended to obtain data for this research. Beyond identifying potential hazards, the information obtained from these conferences produced a variety of implementation strategies, including: concentrating on the fundamental principles of restorative justice, the need for constant and appropriate evaluation, involvement of the community in all aspects of implementation, formation of strong Youth Justice Committees, and gaining support and educating the public, media and politicians. Overall, it is argued that implementation efforts must be guided by the values of restorative justice in order to prevent the co-optation and dilution of the restorative philosophy.


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