The Harper government is moving forward with its crackdown on youth crime. The government wants longer sentences for juvenile criminals to increase deterrence. (Just last week the Supreme Court put the brakes on this when they said prosecutors must prove that a convicted youth should be sentenced in an adult court.)
This hard line incarceration policy is ironic at this time because youth crime rates have fallen since 2003. The number of young offenders sentenced to secure custody -at an average cost of $80,000 a year – dropped to 2,758 in 2004 from 6,958 in 2000. Ontario saved $18.5million between 2004 and 2006 because of unused detention facilities. The money was reinvested in alternatives to custody and community interventions.
One child care official says “We have gone from being the worst country in the Western world in terms of keeping youth in custody to being one of the best – a 33-per-cent decrease – without seeing any increase in crime.” Youth expersts also believe strongly that juveniles who are no kept under detention are much less likely to graduate to serious crimes and adult jails. Also many incarcerated young people suffer from mental problems that are no properly addressed.
Do you think the Harper government should back off its tougher incarceration policies for youth crime?
Do Canadians want to embrace the American policies of three strikes, you’re out and throw away the key?