Youth Criminal Justice Act – Conferences & Conclusion

NARRATOR The Youth Criminal Justice Act recognizes
the importance of involving families, victims and communities in the youth criminal justice
system. One way in which this is being done is through conferences. Under the Act, a conference
is defined as a group of people brought together to give advice to decision-makers such as
police officers and judges. A conference can give advice on appropriate extrajudicial measures,
conditions for release from pre-trial detention, appropriate sentences, and plans for reintegrating
a young person back into the community after being in custody. CROWN PROSECUTOR KEVIN MOTT An extrajudicial
conference can be a situation where we get a larger group of people together rather than
just a judge and a Crown prosecutor and the people that happen to be in a court room.
Get a larger group of people together, in a sense a community, made up of the offender
and his supporters, the victim and that person’s supporters and perhaps some other individuals
that are interested in the case. SOCIAL WORKER TAZIO CLARKE It takes a restorative
approach, it takes a community approach in the sense that it’s initiated by most of the
time the Crown or the judge or the justice of peace. And what they do, they bring the
youth, whoever’s involved in the youth’s life, any community members that’s involved in the
youth’s life and before the sentence they take into consideration the opinion or everyone
gets to voice their opinion on this so the judge is able to make a more informed decision. YRAP ERIK BISANZ The purpose of these conferences
is to bring together people who have been involved in an offence in a way that really
takes into account that it’s a relationship that’s been harmed not just laws that have
been broken. And the meetings are usually attended by three of our youth members, an
adult adviser who is there to give input and advice, the offender, and often although it
is not necessary, the victim will be there. At the end of the conference we come to an
agreement and we come up with a resolution that we can propose to the court. It’s very
informal, it’s very personal and so it’s a very different conversation that you might
have with a police officer, with a lawyer or even a social worker or especially a judge. YOUNG OFFENDER There was just so much going
through my head, you know, like the biggest thing I was worried about was like, at the
time was like, Am I going to go to jail? NARRATOR He was just 13 when he stole a brand
new truck from a Calgary street. It was the early hours of the morning and he and his
young passenger were on a joyride. When he realized that they were being followed by
the police, he stepped on the gas and tried to escape. YOUNG OFFENDER I was going about a hundred
and thirty, and I ah, I was going around this wide turn and I ah, caught some gravel on
the right side of the road, and the back end kicked out and we skipped the median, and
went through ah, three fences, and then we hit a retaining wall going at they said, approximately
like a hundred kilometres an hour. NARRATOR The vehicle was totalled. Both boys
were almost killed. After he was charged, the young driver was referred to a Calgary
program that targets offences that are serious enough to warrant custody. A young person must first enter a guilty plea.
They also have to meet their victims in a community conference. The interests and needs
of victims are clearly recognized in the YCJA and encourage their participation in community-based
approaches. YOUNG OFFENDER I thought it, like I kinda
owed it to ’em, you know, even though I didn’t know ’em, you know, like if, if they wanted
to you know, I was willing. And then the morning hit and I was just like, well, as we were
driving to the place, I was just like scared, you know, I’m like geez I don’t know if I
want to do this. VICTIM I wasn’t worried about meeting him
I wanted to see where this person was coming from. What you know we were probably anxious
we wanted to meet him to see what was going on and you know what kind of punk was this? YOUNG OFFENDER And then I got there, and I’m
just like, well they were probably just like me when I was little, you know, like not maybe
not with some of the crime and whatever, but yeah, they were down to earth, and they were
pretty cool about it, you know, like I was amazed. I thought that, like I know I would
just be flipping out, if someone stole my truck. VICTIM So we ended up meeting them and he
had brought his whole family and me and my husband went and met with them and ah so we
got to tell him how we felt about the situation. And we told him how angry and disappointed
we were and how we were concerned about his life, that he could have killed himself, killed
his best friend and you know we, some of us shed tears and his mom and it was a great
opportunity to get involved with this. NARRATOR Through the community conference,
the boy offered to provide personal service to the victim and her family – doing lawn
work, even helping them move. When he returned to court for sentencing, the judge took this
into consideration. While the youth was still sentenced to 18 months probation, he could
have faced time in custody. YOUNG OFFENDER I think what I did is better
than going to jail because I mean, you might never learn if you go to jail you know like
you would never, like I would never know how it affected them like Mike and Monica. I would
never know like now they only had one vehicle to like go to work and like drop their kids
off at daycare and just little things like that you know. And like that, that actually
made me like learn and like, I don’t know, it just helped me a lot. YOUNG OFFENDER I’m glad, like I try to keep
busy, I haven’t drank. I would like to go back to school because I only have like, three
grade 12 courses that I need then I’m graduated. YOUNG OFFENDER Well, it showed me that I was
able to go to work and to be on a schedule, and to get to work in time everyday. And it
showed me that I could be self-sufficient in a way. YOUNG OFFENDER Now I know like there is a
purpose to life. NARRATOR The Youth Criminal Justice Act is
the legal foundation upon which Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice System is built. It recognizes
that in order to protect society, youth who commit crimes must be held accountable through
measures that are proportionate to the seriousness of the offence. The measures taken should
also aim to promote the rehabilitation of youth, to help them successfully reintegrate
back into society and prevent them from committing further offences. Across the country, the Government of Canada,
provincial and territorial governments, police, lawyers, judges and others are working in
close partnership with communities and families to ensure that Canada has a fair and effective
youth justice system that helps to keep our streets and communities safe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *