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Youth-crime crackdown draws major support

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  • Youth-crime crackdown draws major support

    Youth-crime crackdown draws major support
    Justice minister, police chief weigh in on changes

    Karen Kleiss, The Edmonton Journal
    Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2007

    Leaders in Alberta's fight against youth crime voiced their support Tuesday for the federal government's proposed changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

    Police Chief Mike Boyd and Justice Minister Ron Stevens say the tougher sentences put forward by the Conservative government can help make streets safer.

    "Deterrence is one element that is missing from the act, and young people who are committing these crimes are aware of that," Boyd said during a panel discussion convened at Grant MacEwan College on Tuesday evening.

    There are cases where it is very appropriate to treat young people as adults."

    Boyd said tougher adult sentences for teens can help keep communities safer because troubled young offenders can then access the long-term treatment programs available in adult facilities.

    "The appropriate sentence means appropriate treatment possibilities exist for those young offenders," Boyd said. "They are not likely to get that extensive treatment otherwise."

    The federal government said this week it plans to introduce changes to young offender legislation as early as next month.

    The bill is expected to include a provision that will make it mandatory for violent and repeat offenders over age 13 to receive adult sentences.

    A second anticipated change would instruct judges to add additional jail time for young offenders in an effort to send a message to the public. The proposed changes to the act are consistent with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's election platform, which promised to hold young lawbreakers accountable to their victims and the community.

    Stevens said the federal government needs to "overhaul" the legislation.

    "We must deter young offenders who would commit violent criminal acts," Stevens told the crowd of more than 100 people.

    "The Youth Criminal Justice Act does not deal effectively with serious violent and chronic young offenders."

    Stevens said Harper's government has not yet forwarded details of the proposed legislative changes, but that he anticipates consultation with the provinces.

    "I am certainly supportive," he said. "And I believe the Alberta government will be supportive."

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  • #2
    An interesting history lesson?

    "This compares with today's figure of 73% of young people re-offending within a year after release from custody."

    Young offenders in Victorian times were much less likely to re-offend after sentence than their counterparts today, research shows

    "A study of the lives of 500 children committed to reformatory or industrial schools over a century ago showed that only 22% re-offended during the rest of their lives after their release. This compares with today's figure of 73% of young people re-offending within a year after release from custody.

    "Professor Pamela Cox told the British Sociological Association's annual conference in Glasgow today [Wednesday 17 April] that among the reasons for the low re-offending rate could be that when the offenders were released they were all put on supervised apprenticeship-type schemes for at least three years."

    "In part at least it seems it is connected with the requirement that all those leaving the industrial and reformatory schools go into some kind of apprenticeship, or into the military. This set them up with a skill and gave them the routine of working that stood them in good stead in the future. Even among the 22% or so who did reoffend, only 6% were persistent criminals."

    "It could also be partly due to the fact that their crimes were typically less serious than those in young offenders institutions today."