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

The respondents and the context in which they work

The 238 respondents [6] of the questionnaire came from all provinces and two of the three territories.

Province or Territory of Respondents
  Frequency Percent
NF 4 17
PE 1 0.4
NS 16 6.7
NB 9 3.8
QC 24 10.1
ON 68 28.6
MN 17 7.1
SK 17 7.1
AB 21 8.8
BC 53 22.3
YK 1 0.4
NW 3 1.3
Missing 4 1.7
Total 238 100

Seventy-four percent of the respondents were male. The 238 respondents had varied experience as judges, with one judge being appointed in 1966 and another in 2000. The median year of appointment was 1990, which was also the median year in which the judges heard their first youth court cases. Most of the respondents also hear adult court cases on a regular basis. Eighty-eight (37%) of the respondents indicated that YOA cases are mixed in with adult criminal cases on their normal dockets with varying frequency (median = 6 days per month of hearing youth court cases).

Judges were asked the size of the community in which they sit. Most judges (60%) indicated that they regularly sit in one size of community. The other 40% indicated that they sit in communities of two or more different sizes on a regular basis.

The number of judges indicating that they sit in communities of varying sizes are shown in the table below. [7]

Community in which judge regularly sits
Size of Community Percent sitting regularly
Large metropolitan area (population 500,000+) 34 %
City/metro area with population 250,000-499,000 11 %
City/metro area with population 100,000-249,999 20 %
Smaller centre, population 25,000-99,999 32 %
Smaller community, population under 25,000 38 %
Aboriginal community 25 %
Number of respondents 235

Judges generally see youth crime as staying the same or decreasing in the communities in which they sit as judges. [8]

View of judges regarding the change in magnitude of youth crime
  Increasing Staying same Decreasing Total (N)
In largest or only community in which judge sits 7 % 71 % 22 % 100 % (219)
In smallest community in which judge sits 7 % 72 % 22 % 100 % (155)

Judges were also asked if they were currently seeing more serious cases than they had 5 years ago. Slightly more judges reported that they have seen an increase rather than a decrease. In addition, they were asked if they were presently seeing more minor cases than in the past. Minor cases appeared to be slightly more likely to be seen as decreasing in frequency than increasing.

View of judges of change in serious and minor cases compared to 5 years ago
  Increasing Staying same Decreasing Total (N)
Serious cases 27 % 53 % 20 % 100 % (205)
Minor cases 23 % 48 % 30 % 100 % (203)

  • [6] The number of respondents on which the findings are based varies slightly from analysis to analysis because a small number of judges did not answer particular questions. In addition, analyses involving province or region necessarily exclude the responses of the four judges for whom their province could not be determined.
  • [7]Percentages sum to more than 100% because many judges sit in more than one (size) community.
  • [8] Questions L1 and L1A
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