The Young Offender\'s Act: The Past, Present, and Future

Shaun Babakhanians 05/13/98

Youth crime is a growing epidemic that affects most teenagers at one point of their
life. They\'ll get in trouble with the law and their parents will find out of their mischief.
Their crime may lead to many others as they get older because they will be treated harshly
in the adult system. Thanks to acts like the Young Offenders Act, we give kids second
chances at becoming better citizens and thus, getting back on the right foot and leading the
rest of their lives happily. Some kids are bound to become chronic lawbreakers, but the
Young Offenders Act isn\'t to blame for that. The Young Offenders Act is just meant to
give the kids who make an error, a second chance. Everybody deserves a second chance.
In the essay, facts and opinions will be stated on the main topic of lowering the Young
Offenders Act age limit to a minimum of ten years of age and to a maximum of eighteen
years old. This is a topic under constant scrutinization and deserves to be debated over.
The Justice Minister Anne McLellan quoted the following passage about her plans with
the Young Offenders Act: "We must send a signal today to all Canadians that there is
going to be a new youth justice regime in place."

The Juvenile Delinquent\'s Act was the predecessor of the Young Offenders Act. It
was adopted in 1908 by the federal government. Its purpose was to change the old system
of trying children as adults and holding them over for as long as the crown wanted to.
They then decided to treat the children as "misguided" ones, instead of criminals.
Although good intentions were meant in the act, there were extremely few guidelines and
the kids were given a variety of punishments for one offense. There was little fairness in
the end and they ended up being treated like adults.
During the 1960\'s, the child-saving movement began and there was a constant
demand for the Juvenile Delinquent\'s Act to be reformed. People were complaining of too
much unfairness, corrupt judges, and poor sentencing techniques. The House of
Commons took it into their own hands and decided to debate over the topic of a new
amendment for the Juvenile Delinquent\'s Act. For almost two decades, the debating was
furious but on April 2nd, 1984, the Young Offenders Act was passed as an official act.
The Young Offenders Act was more specific, fairer, and easier to understand than
the Juvenile Delinquent\'s Act. The main ideas of the Young Offenders Act are: offenders
should be held responsible for their actions, they must not be allowed to get away with any
crime of their choice, they should also be punished according to their age and more
importantly, their maturity. The kids will be evaluated if it is too difficult to determine
their maturity. Canadian society reserves the right to be protected from young offenders
and vice versa. The young offenders may be sent to a juvenile detention facility if there
needs to be one. People have to remember that children\'s needs are special. They have
not yet developed maturely as adults so their judgement levels can be from slightly to
extremely lower. The children also have the same rights as adults do. They reserve the
right to remain silent, the right to habeus corpus, and the right to not be arbitrarily
The most debated part of the Young Offenders Act is the age range. In order to
be covered under the Young Offenders Act, you must be over twelve years of age and you
must be under the age of eighteen. Also, one of the most important aspects of the Young
Offenders Act is that it only covers federal offenses under criminal code. All other
offenses are carried out in a provincial youth court. That is a good thing about the Young
Offenders Act, all offenses are dealt with in youth court and not adult court.
There is much controversy over youths being sent to adult court for their punishments.
They would get tried too harshly and wouldn\'t get treated fairly. They would end up
getting sent to adult prisons were they could be sexually assaulted, beaten up, or could
possibly get killed. They now get sent to a juvenile detention facility that is a friendlier
environment where the kids also get an education.
There are many benefits to the Young Offenders Act, which help the