Youth Court Judges' Views of the Youth Justice system: The results of a survey

Sentencing: The range of options

Only judges in Quebec appeared to be content with the range of sanctions available [28] to them in their community (or in the largest community in which they sit for those judges who sit in more than one community). For judges who sat in two or more communities, this same regional effect appeared.

Adequate choice of sanctions available in largest (or only) community
  Adequate range of sanctions available? Total
Definitely yes Probably yes Probably or definitely not
Region Atlantic Count
Row percent
7
23.3 %
16
53.3 %
7
23.3 %
30
100 %
Quebec Count
Row percent
15
62.5 %
9
37.5 %
  24
100 %
Ontario Count
Row percent
16
23.9 %
31
46.3 %
20
29.9 %
67
100 %
Prairies Count
Row percent
12
21.8 %
21
38.2 %
22
40 %
55
100 %
BC Count
Row percent
15
28.3 %
22
41.5 %
16
30.2 %
53
100 %
Territory Count
Row percent
2
50 %
  2
50 %
4
100 %
Total Count
Row percent
67
28.8 %
99
42.5 %
67
28.8 %
233
100 %

Ignoring the territories, Chi-Square = 22.63, df=8, p<.01

Adequate choice of sanctions available in largest (or only) community
  Adequate range of sanctions available Total
Definitely yes Probably yes Probably or definitely not
Quebec compared to Rest of Canada Quebec Count
Row percent
15
62.5 %
9
37.5 %
  24
100 %
Rest of Canada Count
Row percent
52
24.9 %
90
43.1 %
67
32.1 %
209
100 %
Total Count
Row percent
67
28.8 %
99
42.5 %
67
28.8 %
233
100 %

Chi-square = 18.45, df=2, p<.001

Adequate choice of sanctions available in smallest community
  Adequate range of sanctions available, smallest community? Total
Definitely yes Probably yes Probably or definitely not
Quebec compared to Rest of Canada Quebec

Count
Row percent

12
63.2 %
5
26.3 %
2
10.5 %
19
100 %
Rest of
Canada
Count
Row percent
19
12.7 %
56
37.3 %
75
50 %
150
100 %
Total Count
Row percent
31
18.3 %
61
36.1 %
77
45.6 %
169
100 %

Chi square = 29.77, df=2, p<.01 (1 expected value < 5, = 3.49)

Not surprisingly, for those judges who sat in two or more communities, a report of an inadequate range of sanctions in the largest community was associated with a tendency to indicate the same inadequacy with respect to the smallest community in which he/she heard YOA cases. Of those judges which thought that sanctions were "definitely adequate" in the larger community, 50% felt that this was also true of the smallest community in which they sat. Of those which thought that the range of sanctions was "probably or definitely not adequate" in the largest community, only 4.1% felt that the range was definitely adequate in the smallest community.

Adequacy of the range of sanctions available for the largest and the smallest community in which the judge hears YOA cases (for only those judges who hear cases in two or more communities)
 

Adequate range of sanctions available, smallest community?

Total
Definitely yes Probably yes Probably or definitely not
Adequate range of sanctions available? (for the larger community) Definitely yes Count
Row percent
26
50 %
15
28.8 %
11
21.2 %
52 (30.2 %)
100 %
Probably yes Count
Row percent
3
4.2 %
48
67.6 %
20
28.2 %
71 (41.3 %)
100 %
Probably or definitely not Count
Row percent
2
4.1 %
  47
95.9 %
49 (28.5 %)
100 %
Total Count
Row percent
31
18.0 %
63
36.6 %
78
45.3 %
172 (100 %)
100 %
 

Chi square = 118.6, df=4, p<.001.

As can be seen in the above table, the range of sanctions available was seen as less adequate in the smallest community than in the largest community. For judges who sat in more than two communities, 28.5% indicated that the range of sanctions was "probably or definitely not adequate" in the largest of these communities. In the smallest of the communities in which a judge sat, 45.3% of the judges indicated that they believed the range of sanctions available to be "probably or definitely not adequate." This difference was statistically significant [29] (t=5.74, df=171, p<.001).

The main problem noted by most of the judges who wrote comments in response to this question was not that the YOA is lacking in choices, but rather that communities and provinces have not provided these choices to the court. Several judges suggested that it would be useful to have a conditional sentence (presumably like that which is included in the YCJA in Section 42(5) as the "deferred custody and supervision order.").

Most judges (approximately 92%) indicated [30] that there were particular types of youths for whom it was difficult to find rehabilitative programs. "Types" obviously could be defined in terms of offence, personal need, categories of youths (e.g., girls or particular ethnic groups) or on any dimension deemed important by the judge. Judges were permitted to list more than one type of youth, if they felt it appropriate, and they often did so. Of those judges listing one or more types of programs that were particularly difficult to find, approximately 90 different combinations of programs were given by the 219 judges. These were categorized into a number of non-exclusive categories. The proportion of the judges who listed one or more of each type of program is shown in the following table.

Types of programs mentioned as being "particularly difficult" to find
Program type Proportion of all respondents (% of 238) mentioning Proportion of respondents who mentioned one or more programs (% of 219)
Mental health, etc. 25.6 % 27.9 %
FAS/FAE 20.2 % 21.9 %
Drug, alcohol, solvent, etc. 19.3 % 21.0 %
Various categories of youths (e.g., girls, street youths, ethnic groups, disabled 42.4 % 46.1 %
Youths who had committed serious offences 8.8 % 9.6 %
Youths who had committed other, not so serious offences (e.g., shoplifters) 5.0 % 5.5 %

  • [28] Questions F1, F1a.
  • [29] Treating the values in the table as three-point scales.
  • [30] Question E8
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