Beyond institutions: Youth corrections in Ontario under the Youth Criminal Justice Act
LE3 .A278 2012
Master of Arts
Youth justice has been controversial in Canada since the first Juvenile Delinquents Act from the early 1900s. When Canada introduced the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) in 2003, one of the primary changes was the movement to de-institutionalize young offenders. The purpose of this research was to examine the availability and assess views on the effectiveness of community and institutional programming that is available to pre- and post-conviction young offenders with a particular focus within Ontario. Statistics show that the numbers of youth being incarcerated is down since the promulgation of the YCJA, and the use of alternative sentences for young offenders appears to have increased. In both Canada and Ontario, of those admitted to correctional services, a smaller number and percentage were being admitted to secure custody as well as open custody facilities. Those who are spending time in custody facilities tend to be youth who are serving slightly longer sentences than the demographics show from the years prior to the YCJA. Open-ended interviews with correctional staff in Ontario revealed many innovative programs that assist youth who are involved in criminal activity. Themes identified in the interviews include: public perceptions, defining and determining effectiveness of the programs, funding, development and implementation of new programming, and deinstitutionalization. Across all the interviews there is considerable support for keeping the majority of youth offenders out of the facilities, making concessions for exceptions to that rule who need it both for the safety and security of themselves and the public, and for those who benefit from the structure provided within such facilities.
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