This morning Minister of Justice and Attorney General Meter Packay announced proposed revisions to the Youth Criminal Justice Act that would allow adult sentences for young offenders aged 11-14. Under the current YCJA only young offenders ages 14-18 may be considered for adult sentences based on the severity of their crimes. “What it means to be an adolescent in today’s society is changing, and their crimes are changing as well. The current YCJA has sent kids the message that they can get away with whatever they want because they are still no ; this is unacceptable as everyone who puts our society in danger must be held accountable.” Hon. Meter Packay
As the Unity Party, we believe that this treatment is unfair for children of that age. Since rehabilitation and reintegration is a large part of our beliefs, children should be treated as minors. It is a great learning experience to rehabilitate because most of the time, they are not fully aware of the consequences.
Adult sentences primarily focus on punishing offenders for their crime, which completely disregards the goal of rehabilitation and reintegration back into our society. Although we do believe in consequences, this harsh punishment will not allow for reintegration and will keep wasting taxpayers money in the long term. The negative influences that will surround youth during an adult sentence will not change their current lifestyle. When youth are given an adult sentence, they are missing the prime parts of their lives where they begin to form their views and values. With an adult sentence and criminal record, the course of a young person’s life is negatively impacted forever, restraining them from opportunities that they will never experience.
We agree that everyone should be held accountable for their actions, but to put them in a position where it will ruin their life is unacceptable. You see, the developing brain of an 11-14 year old will not make decisions as well. That’s an advantage of adults, the frontal lobe, the section required for making decisions is not developed. It is true to say that young generations are evolving in ways they have never been able to before, but completely taking away the vulnerability of adolescence is downright unfair. Youth are going through difficult times and still trying to fathom who they are. Although kids who have committed crime may be a threat to society, the solution is not an adult sentence. In an adult sentence, youth do not have the help they need to move away from their current path. They continue to make bad choices and end up in a cycle of creating crimes. Yes, crimes, no matter how minor or severe they may be, are wrong, but there are better ways of dealing with young offenders than granting adult sentences. We can work together to help our youth in times of trouble, and that is what the Unity Party stands for.