Com­mu­nity ap­proach needed on youth crime: re­port

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

New Brunswick's Child and Youth Ad­vo­cate says greater in­vest­ment in com­mu­nity-based ap­proaches to youth crime re­duc­tion will re­duce the num­ber of young peo­ple be­hind bars and save money in the long run.

Norm Bosse makes 10 rec­om­men­da­tions in a re­port re­leased Wed­nes­day en­ti­tled More Care Less Court.

“The pre­am­ble to the Crim­i­nal Youth Jus­tice Act says that mem­bers of so­ci­ety share a re­spon­si­bil­ity to ad­dress the de­vel­op­men­tal chal­lenges and the needs of young per­sons and to guide them into adult­hood. That doesn't seem to be hap­pen­ing here in New Brunswick,” Bosse said in an in­ter­view.

Bosse stated in his re­port that in 2013-14, chil­dren as young as 12 were sent to the de­ten­tion and se­cure cus­tody fa­cil­ity in Mi­ramichi, N.B., for pre-trial de­ten­tion.

“Prison is no place for the pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment of a 12-yearold,” Bosse wrote.

Bosse said there needs to be more train­ing for peo­ple who deal with trou­bled youth, in­clud­ing po­lice of­fi­cers, lawyers, pro­ba­tion of­fi­cers and judges. He said they could be hold­ing case con­fer­ences to find ways of deal­ing with young of­fend­ers that doesn't re­sult in putting them be­hind bars.

He said gov­ern­ment should not be us­ing crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tions to ac­cess men­tal health ser­vices for young peo­ple. In­stead, he said lawyers should ask judges to or­der re­fer­rals for assess­ments re­lated to learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties and men­tal health is­sues.

Bosse said there are cur­rently 25 to 30 New Brunswick youths in cus­tody at any given time.

“If we use the act cor­rectly the num­ber of in­car­cer­ated youth will di­min­ish. There should be five to 10 youth in­car­cer­ated at any one time,” he said.

He said youths who are await­ing sen­tenc­ing or to be dealt with in youth court for mi­nor of­fences should be kept in the com­mu­nity, and not held in de­ten­tion. He said the ex­cep­tion would be cases where there are al­le­ga­tions of se­ri­ous of­fences.

In­car­cer­ated youths are cur­rently held in a fa­cil­ity in Mi­ramichi that is shared with adult fe­male in­mates, but Bosse says that needs to change be­cause youths are not sup­posed to be held in the same fa­cil­ity as adults.

Other rec­om­men­da­tions in­clude the de­vel­op­ment of spe­cial­ized youth court ser­vices such as the ap­point­ment of an itin­er­ant youth court judge, spe­cially trained youth-spe­cific duty coun­sel, Le­gal Aid coun­sel and Crown pros­e­cu­tors.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.