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EVALUATING THE YOUTH CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT AFTER FIVE YEARS: A QUALIFIED SUCCESS
Peter J. Carrington
University of Waterloo
Julian V. Roberts
University of Oxford
The Youth Criminal Justice Act (2003) was enacted with the intent of decreasing the use of courts and restricting the use of custody for adolescent offenders, while improving the effectiveness of the responses to serious violent youth offenders. This paper assesses the impact of the act in its first five years. It reviews salient provisions of the act dealing with sentencing and diversion, discusses Supreme Court of Canada jurisprudence interpreting the act, and presents statistical data on the impact of the YCJA on diversion and sentencing of youth and on youth court and custodial caseloads. The Supreme Court has narrowly interpreted the provisions of the YCJA that allow for the use of custody, contributing to a reduction in use of custody. The Court has also emphasized that youth are to be treated differently from adults and ruled unconstitutional provisions of the YCJA that created a presumption of adult sentencing for the most serious offences by young offenders, limiting the effect of provisions of the act directed at serious violent offenders. The YCJA has succeeded in significantly reducing the rates of use of court and custody, without increasing recorded youth crime. There continue to be significant regional variations in rates of use of youth courts and custody. Although regional differences in the use of court have declined under the YCJA, variation in the use of custody has not been significantly affected by the new act. Youth crime remains a contentions political concern in Canada.
TRENDS IN THE IMPRISONMENT OF WOMEN IN CANADA
Centre of Criminology, University of Toronto
Cheryl Marie Webster
Department of Criminology, University of Ottawa
Anthony N. Doob
Centre of Criminology, University of Toronto
There are conflicting claims about whether women's imprisonment in Canada has followed the trend toward increasing punitiveness observed in a number of other western nations. This paper provides a detailed description of the scope of women's imprisonment in Canada since the early 1980s to adjudicate between these claims. Using different measures of imprisonment and data from federal and provincial prisons for women, the paper shows that we do not have convincing national evidence that there has been substantial growth in women's imprisonment in Canada over the past few decades. There are however, some important gaps in the existing data that make it impossible to describe the full extent of the imprisonment of women and, more importantly, trends in the size of the population of women in prison. At the same time data from one province — Ontario — describe an important and disconcerting shift in the nature of women's imprisonment that has gone largely unnoticed by scholars: a large and growing proportion of the imprisoned female population is made up of women who are not serving sentences. The paper concludes with a call for more attention to the increase in the remand population and to what it means for theories of punitiveness.
RACISM VERSUS PROFESSIONALISM: CLAIMS AND COUNTER-CLAIMS ABOUT RACIAL PROFILING
Vic Satzewich and William Shaffir
Department of Sociology, McMaster University
This paper examines the meaning of police denials of racial profiling. Based on interviews with members of Hamilton Police Service, we suggest that the concept of a police subculture offers the most credible backdrop for understanding what is commonly termed racial profiling. When contextualized in this manner, racial profiling is perceived by the police as one in a series of activities that define their work. We argue that, when seen in the context of police subcultures, such profiling occurs even in the absence of officers who may be inclined to prejudice or discrimination against members of visible minorities. As well, that subculture provides police with a powerful and convincing deflection rhetoric to neutralize claims that the policing institution has failed to root out the racist practices of its officers.
POLICER LA VIOLENCE : ANALYSE DU TAUX DE DÉCLARATION ET DU TAUX D'ENREGISTREMENT DES VICTIMISATIONS CRIMINELLES AU CANADA EN 1999 ET 2004
Marc Ouimet et Jean-Michel Tessier-Jasmin
Université de Montréal
This article uses data from Canadian victimization surveys between 1999 and 2004 to analyze the factors shaping two decisions of vital importance to the justice system — namely, the reporting of a crime to the police and the recording of a crime by the police. These analyses serve to show that the seriousness of the crime, and not the characteristics of the victim, is the main factor driving the decision to report a crime to the police. Likewise, the police officially record approximately 80% of the criminal events reported to them and are not influenced by the characteristics of the victim (e.g., age, gender, ethnic origin, schooling level, income, etc.). For this reason, they appear to take a protocol-based approach to their work. Finally, the analyses show that the reporting and recording rates for crimes against property were lower in 2004 than in 1999 — a fact that may partially account for the drop in Canada's official crime rate. However, the reporting and recording rate for violent crimes is up. Accordingly, violent crime has become a growing focus of concern among the general public and the police authorities alike.
PARENTS' INVOLVEMENT IN THE YOUTH JUSTICE SYSTEM: A VIEW FROM THE TRENCHES
Michele Peterson-Badali and Julia Broekin
Department of Human Development and Applied Psychology, OISE/UT
Although the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) contains more references to parents than did previous youth justice legislation, it contains little discussion of the principles underlying parental involvement. Thus, it is critical to explore the views of those who work in the youth justice system, as their perceptions may shape how they involve parents in the system. In this descriptive study, Ontario police, defence and crown counsel, youth court judges, and probation officers were interviewed regarding their perceptions of parental involvement in youth justice proceedings. Most respondents believed that the YCJA actively encourages parental involvement. In addition to support and advocacy for youth, officials indicated that legislators intend parents to play a role in addressing youths' offending behaviour. Nevertheless, there were concerns that current legislation encourages parental involvement only in theory and that this does not translate into practice. Different, and at times conflicting, perspectives across respondent groups suggest the need for inter-professional training to enable the system to work more collaboratively to provide youth and parents with consistent information and expectations regarding parents' roles and to promote more effective parental involvement.