It is recognized that youth who commit crimes should be treated differently from adults.
Intervention before adulthood is crucial in providing the skills and resources for youth to develop into productive, responsible adults. Youth should take responsibility for their actions and face meaningful consequences while receiving support to keep them from a life of crime.
In Canada, there is a desire to incorporate restorative justice into our judicial system. Restorative justice aims to provide victims of crime with opportunities to heal by allowing them to speak about the harm and what they feel they need to heal. Restorative justice plays an important part in creating safe, happy communities.
Over 130 youth justice committees in Alberta work to provide youth with an alternative to the court system while incorporating restorative justice. These organizations work under the legislative authority of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Passed in 2003, the act authorizes the creation of youth justice committees. It sets out the values upon which the legislation is based and emphasises the role communities can play in crime prevention and protecting the victim’s interests.
Committees carry out their mandates through panels composed of community volunteers. The panels meet with the youth, family, and victims to discuss the youth’s actions and provide consequences outside the court. Sanctions vary to meet the needs of the youth and the victim, and may include community service, apology letters, career planning, reflection through writing or art, or charitable donations.
Volunteers aim to support the youth and connect them with resources required to develop into healthy, happy adults. The committees also provide a safe environment for victims to speak and have their healing considered in the sanctioning process. By having victims play a role, youth hear firsthand the consequences of their actions.
The Edmonton region has several youth justice committees such as the Edmonton Youth Justice Committee Society (EYJCS), which serves the Edmonton area with locations in the north, south, and west portions of the city. The north location is at 13315 – 89 St, next to Glengarry Park. EYJCS deals with “first and second-time offenders who have committed minor offences and have admitted responsibility.”
For more information about Edmonton Youth Justice, visit Edmontonyouthjustice.com
- You can also search “youth justice” at Solgps.alberta.ca
- Read more about the role youth justice committees play in the criminal justice system here.
- Discover communities in Alberta served by youth justice committees here.
- Find more information about the Youth Criminal Justice Act here.
Header Image: Edmonton has several youth justice committees. Credit: Pixabay