Recently Stephen Harper announced that if elected the Conservatives will change the Youth Criminal Justice Act to allow for youths, as young as fourteen years of age, to be sentenced to life in prison. The Conservatives have made their argument based on ignorance and vengeance, they believe this is the only way to crack down on crime perpetuated by young people. The Act itself offers not just an alternative, but an alternative that is based on reason and what is just.
In Section 3 of the YCJ Act it states:
(1) The following principles apply in this Act:And further on in the section:
(a) the youth criminal justice system is intended to
(i) prevent crime by addressing the circumstances underlying a young person's offending behaviour,
(c) within the limits of fair and proportionate accountability, the measures taken against young persons who commit offences should[...]This Act in its principles recognizes two important points: (1) Young people are not fully mentally developed, that they lack the full ability to judge the consequences of their actions, and; (2) as such, young people are to a much higher degree consequences of their environments.
(iii) be meaningful for the individual young person given his or her needs and level of development
The Conservatives ignore those factors and instead want this act changed to allow for youths to be sentenced to life. They wish to ignore the scientific consensus that fourteen year olds are not psychologically developed enough to be held responsible for their actions as if they were adults, and instead propose a change that would not only dishonour our legal system but our very principles.
Instead of reason, the Conservative Party promises ignorance; ignorance of the importance of psychological development in relation to judging young offenders. And instead of justice, the Conservative Party promises vengeance; vengeance that primitively offers society nothing but more pain.
The Youth Crime Justice Act should not and must not be changed, for if it is, it is at the loss of reason and justice, two principles that provide the foundation for the greatness that is Canada. For the sake of our laws and for the sake of Canada, the Conservative Party cannot win this general election.