Youth Justice Programs

 

Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA)

The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) governs the prosecution of young persons aged 12 to 17 who are alleged to have committed criminal offences. The youth criminal justice system is intended to protect the public by:

  1. holding young persons accountable through measures that are proportionate to the seriousness of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the young person

  2. promoting the rehabilitation and reintegration of young persons who have committed offences

  3. supporting the prevention of crime by referring young persons to programs or agencies in the community to address the circumstances underlying their offending behavior

 

Further the principles of the YCJA require that the criminal justice system for young persons be distinct from that of adults and must acknowledge a presumption of diminished moral blameworthiness or culpability of youth.

 

Prosecutors must ensure that all decisions taken at every stage of the youth justice system, from diversion to sentencing, conform to these and other principles in the YCJA and legal requirements of the YCJA

 

The YCJA outlines the different options police and crowns are to consider when dealing with a young person that has broken the law.

  1. Take no further action

  2. Police warning (Informal)

  3. Police caution (More formal)

  4. Crown caution. Ex: Referral to community programs (Extrajudicial Measures)

  5. Police can send the youth to court and then the crown may refer to a community program (Extrajudicial Sanctions)

 

Who is eligible?

Youth 12 to 17 years of age, who have committed minor offences and who agree to take responsibility for their actions.

How does the program operate?

  • The police refer cases directly to Elizabeth Fry Society Simcoe Muskoka instead of laying a formal charge, or the Crown Attorney refers cases once a charge has been laid.

  • The young person appears before the committee with a parent/guardian or a responsible adult.

  • Victims are invited to attend or are contacted for their views of the offence.

  • Sanctions may include the following: community service, restitution, curfews, charitable donations, counselling, attendance monitoring programs, etc.

  • It is mandatory that an apology be made, even if the victim wishes not to participate.

  • The young person must sign the agreement to complete the sanctions that are imposed by the Committee.

  • Youth who do not accept responsibility, do not accept or fail to complete their sanction(s), or who fail to attend their committee meeting are returned to the formal justice system.

 

Youth Justice Committee Program

The committee is comprised of screened and trained volunteers from the local community, who implement alternatives to formal court proceedings. This allows the victim to be involved and suggest sanctions for the youth. Resources and referrals to the community are utilized.

Active participation from relevant justice partners such as Crown Attorneys, probation officers and police is necessary.

Extrajudicial Measures Program

This program is available to police services as an alternative to laying a formal charge. Referrals made by the police are for youth who are willing to take accountability for their participation in first time, non-violent offences. The program is voluntary.

The young person will be required to attend a Youth Justice Committee meeting with their parent/guardian, and when appropriate, the victim will be invited to attend. At the meeting the participants will decide on meaningful consequences for the young person and a formal contract, agreeing to these terms, will be signed.

Youth who successfully complete the program will not have a conviction on their record.

 

Extrajudicial Sanction Program

Referrals for Extrajudicial Sanctions are made from Crown Attorneys or Probation Officers. The youth will be given a return court date to confirm completion of the program.

 
Restorative Justice Program

This is an approach to conflict resolution focusing on the community and the perspective that, “It takes a village to raise a child.” The program seeks to repair harm caused by the youth, while holding them accountable for their actions. This program seeks to involve the active participation of the community, the young person, their parent(s)/guardian and the victim(s). The cooperation of local police services, courts and community agencies wishing to use this form of conflict resolution as an alternative to the formal justice system is fundamental.

Upon referral, the youth will sit in a Restorative Justice Circle with trained volunteers from the community, staff, and the victim in an effort to make amends for their actions.

 

For more information

 

Youth Justice Wroker:

 

Rhonda Leduc

Director of Community Justice Programs:

 

Email: rhondal@elizabethfrysociety.com

Call: 705-725-0613 ext. 222