When someone mentions the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), some would argue that there is no purpose for it. Some believe that the age boundary is inappropriate; some believe that children should not have reduced sentences and special rights; and some may think that a youth’s criminal record should be accessible in the future. If one would look at all of the positive aspects, statistics, and examples that apply to the YCJA, then they would better appreciate the statute that applies to the young adults of Canada.
When one reads into the YCJA, they will find that it applies to children between the ages of twelve to seventeen (Justice Canada, 2003). Some would argue that this age is either too high or too low to make children criminally responsible for their actions. Even dating back to the 1800’s, children were treated a lot like adults (Capelli, 2007). This was often done around the age of twelve. Whenever children disobeyed their parents or the law they were often punished on an adult level. This applies back to present day, where the YCJA applies to children aged twelve to seventeen.
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To add onto the argument, modern research has proven that children under the age of 18 have not fully established their maturity in the brain yet, and should not be held responsible for their crimes (Beckman, 2004). A lot of the YCJA is based on the fact that it is providing a “second chance” for children, as they do not fully understand the consequences and procedures that they have to go through after committing a crime. This research has also shown that people do not fully develop their brain until the age of nineteen to twenty years old, which is also when the YCJA does not apply to children anymore.
The age that the YCJA applies to is appropriate and provides youth a second chance to understand what they did wrong. It is written in the YCJA that every youth criminal has special rights and more lenient sentences (Justice Canada, 2003). Special rights could be having a parent with the accused during the criminal process or being put in a youth wing of a federal prison, while some lenient sentences may include going to a juvenile detention home, being on probation, paying a fine, community service work, or not being sentenced to anything but having a criminal record available in the future (Howard Society, 2008).
One person may argue that young offenders that commit tremendous crimes should not be able to have these special privileges. What they may not realize is that young offenders can fall under what is called “the age of presumption”, which is when a young offender commits an indictable crime and is over the age of fourteen, but less than eighteen years of age. If a child is under this category, their crime can be punished by being given an adult sentence, but only if the child has committed first degree murder or a serious violent offence (Howard Society, 2008).
The YCJA gives the opportunity to discipline youth criminals without treating them as harsh as adults would be. Lastly, one may argue that a youth’s criminal record should be accessible in their future. Some people believe that it is not fair for a child to grow up with a crime under their belt and be undetected at job interviews, school applications, and other government offices. What the YCJA entitles for youth criminals is that their criminal record can be sealed from any schools, employers, etc (Justice Canada, 2003).
If a child’s criminal record was open and accessible then the child will go the rest of their life being haunted by their immature past. By having the YCJA it gives children a second chance to putting their youth criminal past behind them. All in all, the YCJA is a very important act that the Canadian government has for youth criminals. It gives them a second chance as far as rebuilding their life and having a fresh future, it gives children discipline without being as harsh as an adult would be treated, and it also gives children the opportunity to forget their youth criminal past.
There may be arguments about the YCJA, but it seems like every argument can have a positive side. Without the YCJA, youth criminals would be treated like adults, and there wouldn’t be a boundary between maturity and immaturity. Works Cited Beckman, M. (2004, July 30). Crime, culpability and the adolescent brain. Retrieved from http://www. loni. ucla. edu/~thompson/PDF/MBscience. pdf Capelli, S. (2007, December 16). Children and their changing roles throughout history. Retrieved from http://ezinearticles. om/? Children-and-Their-Changing-Roles-Throughout-History=1418062 Howard Society, J. (2008, July 17). Youth criminal justice act handbook. Retrieved from http://www. johnhoward. ab. ca/pub/youthcrim/youth. pdf Justice Canada. (2003, April 1). Youth criminal justice act. Retrieved from http://laws-lois. justice. gc. ca/eng/acts/Y-1. 5/page-1. html http://laws-lois. justice. gc. ca/eng/acts/Y-1. 5/page-8. html#h-15 http://laws-lois. justice. gc. ca/eng/acts/Y-1. 5/page-49. html#h-38