The Young Offenders Act

 

This essay was written to show the advantages and 
disadvantages of the Young Offenders Act over the previous Juvenile 
Delinquents Act. Also it should give a theoretical understanding of 
the current Canadian Juvenile-Justice system, the act and it's 
implications and the effects of the young offenders needs and mental 
health on the outcome of the trials. 

 In the interest of society the young offenders act was brought 
forth on april second 1984. This act was created to ensure the rights 
and the needs of a young person. Alan W. Leshied says "On one hand 
the justice and legal objectives of the act are being effectively 
realized while on the other hand the needs and treatment aspects of it 
leave much to be desired." The research of the Young offenders act is 
still ongoing but Leshied says that it is becoming clear that the 
custody positions have been in dispute since the act came into effect. 
 The old Juvenile delinquency act states in section 38 "The care and 
custody and discipline of a juvenile delinquent shall approximate as 
nearly as maybe that which should be given by his parents, and... as 
far as practability every juvenile delinquent shall be treated, not as 
a criminal, but as a misguided and misdirected child . . . needing 
aid, encouragement, help and assistance."(Page 72)

 If a youth is close to the adult age of 18 years they could be 
transfered to the adult justice system. This means that they would be 
given the same sentences as an adult including and up to life in 
prison. Many people have tried to correct this problem that they see 
as a weakness. Yet, so far their attempts have failed. Another 
weakness they find, is that the courts are expensive and
unsatisfactory methods of dealing with crime that is not very serious.

 Before the fabrication of legal aid most young offenders were 
not able to obtain legal services. "Subsection 11 (4) provides that, 
were a young person wishes to obtain counsel but is not able to do so, 
the youth-court judge shall refer the young person to the provincial 
legal-aid, or assistance program. If no such program is available or 
the young person is unable to obtain counsel through an available 
program, the youth court judge may, and on the request of the young 
person shall direct the young person to be represented by counsel." 

 To establish a relationship between the young offender and the 
lawyer, thew lawyer must be able to receive instructions from his/her 
client. Usually there is little difficulty either receiving or 
carrieing out the instructions of his/her client. Special problems 
can arise when the client is a young person. 

 The problems faced by this, is the young person may not be 
able to communicate with counsel. While the lawyer and young person 
need not a specific statement for the client as to a preferred outcome 
it should take form of a general expression of the client's feelings 
or attitudes in the major issues of the precedings the young person 
must be able to make decisions that may hold significant 
repercussions.

 Mental health of the young offender can also be a problem. 
Currently this issue is not addressed in the Young Offenders Act, 
before the mental health act can be enacted, extremely dangerous 
behaviour must be displayed. Before the age of 16 they are sometimes 
placed in hospitals for a short ti