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 underezding 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 assiezce.”(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 assiezce 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

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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 time under the authority of the legal


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