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The Young Offender's Act: The Past, Present, And Future

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1062 words
Legal Issues

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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 detained.
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
youths as well. To prevent from getting mistaken, getting in trouble with
the law and getting out is not a free lunch. The benefits are more for the
privacy and security of the young offender. As did the Juvenile
Delinquent's Act try and do, it will allow misguided, or erred youths a
second chance to rehabilitate themselves. Like any fair person would agree,
everybody deserves a second chance, even for the most vicious crime, that's
why there are paroles which give early release for good behavior. Also,
your criminal record as an offender and citizen gets wiped out only in five
years if you do not break the law again. Your name cannot be printed in
the newspaper for your public privacy. You also have the same right to
appeal in court if you believe you have not been treated fairly or have
found new evidence.
As with any new issue, there will always be speculation about it.
Since we live in a democratic environment, there will always be somebody
disagreeing with it. On Tuesday, May 4th, there was an article in the
Winnipeg Free Press about a woman in Regina, Saskatchewan that had a
petition of 70,000 signatures to abolish the Young Offenders Act. She even
said that she had "sent similar ones like that but they've all received a
deaf ear". What can be so wrong about the act which would cause such a
popular decision to abolish it. One of the biggest issues and ...

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Keywords: when was the young offenders act introduced, why was the young offenders act replaced

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