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Youth Criminal Justice Act: The New Face of Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice System

Endres, Karen
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Family Court Review. 42(3): 526 to 539.

Extrajudicial measures were introduced in the YCJA in order to address the perceived overreliance of the YOA on the court system and custodial sentences for less serious nonviolent offenses. The YCJA mandates a distinction between serious violent offenses and less serious nonviolent offenses, and extrajudicial processing procedures are mandated for less serious nonviolent offenses. Under the YCJA, the police are given the primary responsibility for determining the appropriateness of extrajudicial measures, since they have more information with which to assess each situation. The mandates of the YCJA require police officers to use appropriate extrajudicial measures for less serious nonviolent offenses in order to reduce the number of juveniles processed through the formal juvenile justice system and to ensure that juveniles are not incarcerated for nonviolent offenses. The reform dedicated to juvenile sentencing under the YCJA was extensive and included even a change in terminology from “disposition” in the YOA to “sentence” in the YCJA. As a result, part of the YCJA is a renewed methodology to sentencing that is principle-based and focuses on holding the young person accountable for his/her actions by imposing a sentence proportional to the seriousness of the offense. The reformed youth criminal justice system reserves the most serious interventions for the more serious crimes. A custodial sentence is not an option unless all other possible alternatives have been exhausted; further, every period of custody is to be followed by a period of supervision in the community as an attempt to foster the rehabilitation and reintegration of the youth into the community. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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