How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. That is the approach our Government is taking to reforming the youth criminal justice system — one step at a time.
The Minister of Justice introduced changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act in the House of Commons that are focused on those under the age of 18 who are a danger to themselves and to society.
The legislation (Bill C-4) will give Canadians greater confidence that violent and repeat young offenders will be held accountable. It will help ensure that the protection of society is given due consideration in sentencing these offenders.
The bill is entitled Sébastien’s Law in memory of Sébastien Lacasse and to honour the dedication of his parents. Sébastien was 19 when he was stabbed to death by a 17 year old at a house party in 2004. The Lacasse family and other courageous families have worked tirelessly as advocates for the rights of victims, to make a difference in the lives of others. In bringing forward this bill we are acknowledging all Canadian families who have lost loved ones in crimes involving youth violence.
Canadians lose confidence in the justice system when a sentence is insufficient to hold an offender accountable for his or her actions, or insufficient to protect society. This loss of confidence is often most notable in cases of violent and repeat offences and in cases involving young offenders.
The proposed amendments to the young offenders legislation would:
• make protection of society the primary goal;
• simplify the rules to keep violent and repeat young offenders off the streets while awaiting trial, when necessary to protect society.
• require the courts to consider adult sentences for youth convicted of the most serious crimes – murder, attempted murder, manslaughter and aggravated assault.
• enable the courts to impose more appropriate sentences on other violent and repeat offenders, as necessary in individual cases – to use existing sanctions in a way that would discourage an individual from offending again; to use a pattern of escalating criminal activity to seek a custodial sentence when necessary; to impose a custodial sentence for reckless behaviour that puts the lives and safety of others at risk; and
• require the courts to consider publishing the name of a violent young offender when necessary for the protection of society.
These amendments will help ensure that the protection of society is given due consideration in sentencing these offenders. The legislation would also ensure that offenders under the age of 18 who are sentenced to custody will be placed in youth facilities only, even if they receive an adult sentence.
Please contact my Constituency office for assistance or for information on federally related matters, postage free at: #6, 4612 – 50th Street, Ponoka, T4J 1S7 (403) 783-5530; toll free: 1-800-665-0865 or visit my website: www.blainecalkinsmp.ca