Source: Library of Parliament
Youth crime in general, and violent youth crime in particular, is a significant source of concern to many Canadians. In part, the concern is connected with an impression that crime committed by young people is on the rise, though the latest police statistics indicate that by 2011 the youth crime rate had fallen by 22% compared with 2001.1 The drop in youth crime rates over this period was mainly the result of a decrease in property crime. The rate of violent crimes in which the alleged perpetrator is a young person decreased by 12% between 2001 and 2011, while the rate of youth property crime dropped by 31%.2 In 2011, police identified 135,647 alleged youth criminals, of whom 42,799 were suspected of violent crimes.3
The data provided by Statistics Canada’s Crime Severity Index also show a 22% decline in the severity of all crimes committed by young people in 2011 compared with 2001.4 A significant part of this decline stems from a 33% decrease in the severity of non-violent crime. During this period, the severity of youth violent crime decreased by 3.1%.5
In attempts to address the concerns of Canadians and to react to the youth crime problem, lawmakers have, from time to time, proposed amendments to youth justice legislation. This document provides an overview of the principal legislative provisions that govern the way in which the police, the courts and the correctional systems must deal with those between 12 and 17 years of age when they are charged with a crime. The first section briefly traces the evolution of Canadian legislation in the area. The second section describes the philosophy and principles underlying the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), which currently governs criminal and justice matters affecting young people in Canada. The third section briefly outlines the sentences imposed on those convicted of an offence as a young person. The final section deals with the possible consequences of a conviction under the YCJA, specifically how criminal records are established and kept and how bodily substances may be taken in order to store a young person’s DNA in the National DNA Data Bank administered by the RCMP.
A Primer for Mental Health Practitioners Working With Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System (PDF)
Source: Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health
Many mental health practitioners were trained in programs or at a time when very little attention was paid during the course of training to youth involved in the juvenile justice system. For a variety of reasons, general clinical training does not ordinarily equip a mental health practitioner to operate within the juvenile justice context. Practitioners who have been trained within more recently developed programs with a “forensic” emphasis may be more familiar with adults within the criminal justice system than with juveniles, more focused upon technical assessments, such as competency to stand trial, than upon youth-specific developmental and functional assessments, or relatively unfamiliar with the emerging literature regarding youth with mental health needs who have had contact with the juvenile justice system or penetrated to its deeper end programs.
This paper provides an overview for mental health practitioners who provide professional services to youth who are involved with the juvenile justice system. This overview emphasizes emerging research and practices, the emerging conceptualization of trauma and its implications for youth involved with the juvenile justice system, and implications for policy and practice. While primarily intended for mental health professionals working within system of care communities or interested in developing a system of care collaboration in their area, this paper is relevant for any mental health practitioner providing professional services to youth involved or at risk of involvement in the juvenile justice system. It is also relevant for juvenile court and juvenile justice professionals whose work brings them into contact with youth with significant mental health needs.
Since the world’s first juvenile court was founded in Chicago, our legal system has recognized a separate mandate to rehabilitate youth with an approach that is different than adults. Today, all 50 states and the District of Columbia and the federal government have two distinct systems for dealing with adults and juveniles, and corrections systems kept pace by developing different systems for dealing with the youth. While the majority of youth arrested for criminal acts are prosecuted in state juvenile justice systems, a significant proportion of youth are handled by adult criminal justice agencies.It has been estimated that nearly 250,000 youth under age 18 end up in the adult 2 criminal justice system every year. However, little attention has been directed to how adult corrections systems are managing the youth offenders that end up in jails, prisons and under community supervision. To address this information gap, the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) convened three dozen juvenile justice and adult corrections experts on June 18th , 2010, to consider some of the known issues, impacts and opportunities that face corrections systems as they work to safely and effectively rehabilitate thousands of youth offenders in the nations’ jails, prisons, probation and parole systems. This monograph presents the key findings identified during this convening of experts.
Contrary to the popular perception that juvenile crime is on the rise, the data reported in this bulletin tell a different story. As detailed in these pages, juvenile arrests for violent offenses declined 10% between 2008 and 2009, and overall juvenile arrests fell 9% during that same period. Between 1994—when the Violent Crime Index arrest rates for juveniles hit a historic high—and 2009, the rate fell nearly 50% to its lowest level since at least 1980. Arrest rates for nearly every offense category for both male and female and white and minority youth were down in 2009.
Although such trends are encouraging, they should not lead to a misplaced sense of compla cency. Juvenile crime and violence continue to plague many communities across the country. During the first decade of the 21st century (2000–2009), juvenile arrests for robbery rose 15%, and arrests for murder were unchanged. Clearly, our work is not finished.
Juvenile Justice Guidebook for Legislators
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures
Under a partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, NCSL has published a juvenile justice guidebook addressing the most important juvenile justice policy issues of the day. This juvenile justice primer highlights significant research, program approaches and gives examples of state legislation.
Tribal Youth in the Federal Justice System, Final Report (Revised) (PDF)
Source: Urban Institute
The Tribal Youth in the Federal Justice System project explored issues surrounding the population of American Indian juveniles who are processed in the federal justice system. Juveniles in the federal system are rare, and a substantial proportion enters into the system because of crimes committed on American Indians lands, over which the states have no jurisdiction. While these cases are sometimes handled within a tribe’s own justice system, some are prosecuted federally. Using 1999-2008 data from the Federal Justice Statistics Program and interviews with tribal and federal officials, the study explored the prevalence, characteristics, and outcomes of these youth at each stage of the justice system. In addition, the study examined significant issues surrounding the processing of tribal youth cases, including the reasons that these cases may be handled federally or tribally. This study fills a gap in the literature by providing both statistical and contextual information about tribal and non-tribal juvenile cases in the federal system. Although the data have many limitations, the study pointed to a number of findings, including the following: over the last ten years, about half of all juveniles in the federal system were tribal youth; the number of juveniles in the federal system – both tribal and nontribal — decreased over this period; most juvenile cases were concentrated in a small number of federal judicial districts; and U.S. Attorneys declined a substantial portion of all juvenile matters referred for prosecution. Tribal and non-tribal juvenile cases differed in significant ways: most tribal youth cases involved violent offenses, while most non-tribal cases involved public order and drug offenses; and tribal youth were more likely to be adjudicated delinquent, while nontribal youth were more likely to be prosecuted as adults. Availability of rehabilitative resources and tribal capacity to prosecute were also found to be important factors in the decision to pursue a tribal youth case in the federal system.
Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement
Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement (PDF)
Source: Council of State Governments Justice Center
This report describes the results of an extraordinary analysis of millions of school and juvenile justice records in Texas. It was conducted to improve policymakers’ understanding of who is suspended and expelled from public secondary schools, and the impact of those removals on students’ academic performance and juvenile justice system involvement.
Like other states, school suspensions—and, to a lesser degree, expulsions—have become relatively common in Texas. For this reason and because Texas has the second largest public school system in the nation (where nonwhite children make up nearly two-thirds of the student population), this study’s findings have significance for — and relevance to — states across the country.
Several aspects of the study make it groundbreaking. First, the research team did not rely on a sample of students, but instead examined individual school records and school campus data pertaining to all seventh-grade public school students in Texas in 2000, 2001, and 2002. Second, the analysis of each grade’s student records covered at least a six-year period, creating a statewide longitudinal study. Third, access to the state juvenile justice database allowed the researchers to learn about the school disciplinary history of youth who had juvenile records. Fourth, the study group size and rich datasets from the education and juvenile justice systems made it possible to conduct multivariate analyses. Using this approach, the researchers could control for more than 80 variables, effectively isolating the impact that independent factors had on the likelihood of a student’s being suspended and expelled, and on the relationship between these disciplinary actions and a student’s academic performance or juvenile justice involvement.
Bullying Among Middle School and High School Students — Massachusetts, 2009
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)
Multiple studies have documented the association between substance use, poor academic achievement, mental health problems, and bullying (1,2). A small but growing body of research suggests that family violence also is associated with bullying (3). To assess the association between family violence and other risk factors and being involved in or affected by bullying as a bully, victim, or bully-victim (those who reported being both bullies and victims of bullying), the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and CDC analyzed data from the 2009 Massachusetts Youth Health Survey. This report summarizes the results of that analysis, which showed significant differences in risk factors for persons in all three bullying categories, compared with persons who reported being neither bullies nor victims. The adjusted odds ratios (AORs) for middle school students for being physically hurt by a family member were 2.9 for victims, 4.4 for bullies, and 5.0 for bully-victims, and for witnessing violence in the family were 2.6, 2.9, and 3.9, respectively, after adjusting for potential differences by age group, sex, and race/ethnicity. For high school students, the AORs for being physically hurt by a family member were 2.8 for victims, 3.8 for bullies, and 5.4 for bully-victims, and for witnessing violence in the family were 2.3, 2.7, and 6.8, respectively. As schools and health departments continue to address the problem of bullying and its consequences, an understanding of the broad range of associated risk factors is important for creating successful prevention and intervention strategies that include involvement by families.
PREA Data Collection Activities, 2011
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics
The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA; P.L. 108-79) requires the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) to carry out, for each calendar year, a comprehensive statistical review of the incidence and effects of prison rape in randomly selected federal, state, and county correctional facilities. Every year since 2004, BJS has collected administrative records on allegations and substantiated incidents of sexual victimization in correctional facilities nationwide. BJS also conducted interviews with prison and jail inmates in 2007 and 2008-09 and youth held in juvenile correctional facilities in 2008-09. During 2010, BJS in collaboration with the National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a feasibility study using clinical indicators to track sexual violence in prisons and jails. This report provides selected findings and status updates on each of these data collection efforts.
+ Full Report (PDF)
Highlights From Pathways to Desistance: A Longitudinal Study of Serious Adolescent Offenders
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
This fact sheet presents an overview of some major findings from the Pathways to Desistance Study, a project that followed 1,354 serious adolescent offenders for 7 years following their convictions. The primary findings of the study to date deal with the decrease in self-reported offending over time by most serious adolescent offenders, the relative inefficacy of longer juvenile incarcerations in decreasing recidivism, the effectiveness of community-based supervision as a component of aftercare for incarcerated youth, and the effectiveness of substance abuse treatment in reducing both substance use and offending by serious adolescent offenders.
+ Full Document (PDF)
What makes juvenile offenders different from adult offenders?
Source: Australian Institute of Criminology
Responding to juvenile offending is a unique policy and practice challenge. While a substantial proportion of crime is perpetuated by juveniles, most juveniles will ‘grow out’ of offending and adopt law-abiding lifestyles as they mature. This paper outlines the factors (biological, psychological and social) that make juvenile offenders different from adult offenders and that necessitate unique responses to juvenile crime. It is argued that a range of factors, including juveniles’ lack of maturity, propensity to take risks and susceptibility to peer influence, as well as intellectual disability, mental illness and victimisation, increase juveniles’ risks of contact with the criminal justice system. These factors, combined with juveniles’ unique capacity to be rehabilitated, can require intensive and often expensive interventions by the juvenile justice system. Although juvenile offenders are highly diverse, and this diversity should be considered in any response to juvenile crime, a number of key strategies exist in Australia to respond effectively to juvenile crime. These are described in this paper.