Youth Criminal Justice Act
Distribute the survey and ask the students to complete it and return it to you. Prepare a summary of the results of the survey to be presented to the class. You may want to include questions about what they know about the consequences of becoming involved with the law or ask if they think the penalties are too mild or too harsh. You could also ask questions about their attitudes about youth crime and how it could be prevented.
Contact the youth court and probation services in your community to find out what type of alternative measures are available in your community. What types of programs can a young offender be compelled to do as a part of his/her sentence? Write a short report and present it to the class.
Debate: The sentences young offenders receive are/are not appropriate. Pick a partner and prepare both sides of this issue. Present the debate to the whole class.
Prepare a survey for your entire grade about the youth legislation.
What have you learned about young people in trouble with the law? Do you think the information will help you make choices in the future? Explain your answer and hand in a short paragraph on the subject.
Look at the Youth Criminal Justice Act and discuss the following:
- Is the age appropriate?
- Should the penalties be changed?
- Should the young offender’s name be published?
- Do you think more family conferences should take place?
- Should the young offender be treated more severely if the crime is more serious or if s/he is a repeat offender?
- Do you think police should be able to divert young people into community programs?
- Do victims need to know more about what happened to the young offender?
- Do you think the juvenile record should be sealed?
- Write a short report detailing your answers and present it to the class in a short speech.
Legal Rights of Youth
- Compare the rights of youth under the Young Offenders Act with the rights of youth under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Focus on voluntary statements made to the police. You can find a comparison of the two pieces of legislation on the Justice Canada web site. You can also download a chart in PDF format that compares the two pieces of legislation. Select one major change, and then explain to the group how it affects youth. Why do you think the change was made?
- Work with a partner and another team to prepare a debate on the following topic: BE IT RESOLVED that when giving statements to police, youth should not have more protections of their rights than adults have. Present the debate to the rest of the class and have them decide who has argued the topic more effectively.
- What advice would you give to a parent who has just been told that his or her son or daughter has been charged with breaking and entering into a house? Give your advice from the moment of arrest, during the trial, and following the trial. Consider the youth’s legal rights and how the parent should ensure that he or she understands them and exercises them.
What does the following statement mean? Explain it in your own words.
"Young persons, particularly those who are inexperienced with the law, often do not understand their rights or are too intimidated by the process to use them."
- Under the YCJA, a youth can waive (give up) his or her rights. Can you think of any situation in which the youth might want to do so? Explain. Do you think this is a good provision? Why or why not?
Extrajudicial Measures and Sanctions
Work with a partner and another team to prepare a debate on the topic: BE IT RESOLVED that criminal trials are a better way of preventing crime and protecting the public than extrajudicial measures or extrajudicial sanctions. Present the debate to the rest of the class and have them decide who has argued the topic more effectively.
Read the following scenario and answer the questions which follow:
Mrs. Myers’ Garden: Twelve-year-old Jeannie sneaked into Mrs. Myers’ garden to pick some of her favourite berries. Mrs. Myers was tired of children stealing from her garden. She had chased many children away before but they always seemed to come back. Often they walked over her plants and were general nuisances. Mrs. Myers phoned the police and said, "I’ve just found another child in my garden. This time it’s one I recognize—Jeannie Lebourdier."
Consider what should happen to Jeannie by answering the following questions:
- Is this a case for court? Why or why not?
- What consideration should be given to Mrs. Myers?
- Is this a case for a police warning?
- Would other out-of-court options be appropriate?
- What do you think is the best way to deal with this case and why?
- In a similar case, in 1880, a young girl served 14 days in a common jail in Charlottetown, P.E.I., before her trial. She was then sentenced to six months in an Ontario reformatory. Her crime was stealing one gooseberry. This case was included in an interesting book by D. Owen Carrigan, Juvenile Delinquency in Canada—a History, Irwin Publishing, 1998. How does this sentence compare to what you decided to do in question #2 above? If your result is different why do you think the attitude to crimes of this kind has changed?
- What have you learned about extrajudicial measures? Do you think the information will help you make choices in the future? Explain your answer and hand in a short paragraph on the subject.