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

Community service

Only about 9% of the respondents indicated that it "frequently" happened that they would have liked to assign community service but did not do so because there were not adequate or appropriate jobs for the youths. [39] No significant provincial or regional variation existed.

Are there cases where judge would like CSO but no work is available?
  Frequency Valid percent Cumulative percent
Valid Yes. frequently 21 9 9
Yes. occasionally 60 25.6 34.6
Yes. rarely 34 14.5 49.1
No 119 50.9 100
Total 234 100  
Missing 4    
Total 238    

Various obstacles to community service were noted by judges, including the following:

  • opposition from municipal unions and problems with workers' compensation boards;
  • difficulty in placing those who have committed an act of violence;
  • difficulty of parents in rural areas to transport youths to their work;
  • the problems of placing very young youths.

As noted earlier, many judges do not routinely get information about the administration of their decisions. As shown in the table below [40], most judges do not know the type of community service which youths actually do.

Does judge know actual type of work being performed on a CSO?
  Frequency Valid percent Cumulative percent
Valid Always, almost always 4 1.7 1.7
Most of the time 17 7.2 8.9
About half 3 1.3 10.2
Occasionally 39 16.5 26.7
Almost never 72 30.5 57.2
Never 101 42.8 100
Total 236 100  
Missing 2    
Total 238    

Large regional differences existed regarding whether judges reported being routinely informed about whether a youth successfully completed community service.[41] Most judges outside of Quebec indicated that they are not routinely informed about whether a youth successfully completed a community service order.

Is judge routinely informed whether youth completed community work?
 

Routinely informed about whether youth completed CSO?

Total
Yes No
Region Atlantic Count
% within Region
11
36.7 %
19
63.3 %
30
100 %
Quebec Count
% within Region
13
54.2 %
11
45.8 %
24
100 %
Ontario Count
% within Region
17
25 %
51
75 %
68
100 %
Prairies Count
% within Region
6
10.9 %
49
89.1 %
55
100 %
BC Count
% within Region
7
13.2 %
46
86.8 %
53
100 %
Territories Count
% within Region
2
50 %
2
50 %
4
100 %
Total Count
% within Region
56
23.9 %
178
76.1 %
234
100 %

Excluding the territories, Chi-Square = 23.52, df=4, p <.001.

Most judges think "most, all, or almost all" of their community service orders are carried out. [42] The proportion believing that only "half or fewer" of these orders are being carried out was highest in B.C. and the prairies. Two comments from judges help put these findings in context. One judge emphasized the distinction between the belief that community service is completed and its actual completion, suggesting that this discrepancy should be remembered. Another noted he/she assumes that the community service has been completed unless the youth is charged with failure to comply with a disposition. It was not clear whether this judge would necessarily hear the case if the youth were charged with failure to comply with the probation order. This judge also assumes - correctly or incorrectly - that everyone who does not complete community service would be charged.

In contrast, one judge commented that he receives a report on all community service orders, and that because the youths know this, they complete their ordered community work. Similarly, one judge noted that a system exists in his jurisdiction whereby he can monitor progress (or compliance), thereby helping to ensure compliance. Another judge indicated that youths are routinely required to return to court for reviews. However, it would seem that many judges rely on breaches or new charges as the means of finding out about failures. In such circumstances, successes do not draw anyone's attention.

Judges' views on whether youth completes community service work
  Judges’ views on whether youth completes community service successfully Total
All/almost all Most Half or fewer or don’t know
Region Atlantic

Count
Row percent

7
23.3%
19
63.3 %
4
13.3 %
30
100 %
Quebec

Count
Row percent

9
37.5 %
15
62.5 %
  24
100 %
Ontario

Count
Row percent

23
33.8 %
29
42.6 %
16
23.5 %
68
100 %
Prairies

Count
Row percent

9
16.4 %
28
50.9 %
18
32.7 %
55
100 %
BC

Count
Row percent

9
17 %
25
47.2 %
19
35.8 %
53
100 %
Territories

Count
Row percent

1
25 %
1
25 %
2
50 %
4
100 %
Total

Count
Row percent

58
24.8 %
117
50 %
59
25.2 %
234
100 %

Excluding the territories, Chi-Square = 20.92, df=8, p<.01

Most (89%) judges indicated that they are interested in being informed about whether youths complete their community service. [43] This is particularly true for those judges who already indicated that they were routinely informed about the completion of the youth's community service.

Routinely informed about whether youth completed CSO? * Does judge want to know whether youth successfully completed CSO?
  Does judge want to know whether youth successfully completed CSO? Total
Definitely yes Probably yes No
Routinely informed about whether youth completed CSO? Yes

Count
Row percent

49
90.7 %
4
7.4 %
1
1.9 %
54
100 %
No

Count
Row percent

94
51.9%
62
34.3 %
25
13.8 %
181
100 %
Total

Count
Row percent

143
60.9 %
66
28.1 %
26
11.1 %
235
100 %

Chi-Square = 26.345, df=2, p<.01

The comments from judges reflected the overall support for a mechanism by which feedback is given concerning the success of the youth in carrying out the disposition. Several judges noted that the reliance on re-appearance in court assumes that the same judge would hear the breach (or new charge) which is not necessarily the case. Other judges suggested that a statistical report would be as helpful (or more helpful, perhaps) as individual case information. In contrast, another judge felt that information about the value (to the youth or the community) would be more important.

Very few judges require that victims be informed of the completion of a community service order related to "their" case [44]. No provincial or regional variation appeared to exist in the responses to this question.

Does judge ever ask youths to inform victims about completed CSO?
  Frequency Valid percent Cumulative percent
Valid Always, almost always 2 0.8 0.8
Most of the time 2 0.8 1.7
About half 1 0.4 2.1
Occasionally 19 8 10.1
Almost never 27 11.4 21.5
Never 186 78.5 100
Total 237 100  
Missing 1    
Total 238    

A number of judges mentioned that if this were to be done, it needed to be done through the probation officer. Some suggested that this could be done in conjunction with an apology.


  • [39] Question G4
  • [40] Question G3. The results for the "smallest community" in which the judge sits (for those who sit in 2 or more communities, only) (Question G3A) did not differ from the "largest community" for these same "multi-site" judges. Consequently, the data are not shown. However, it is worth noting that the multi-site judges who did tend to know the type of community service which youths were doing in the largest community were also more likely to be aware of what was occurring in their smallest community.
  • [41] Question E11
  • [42] Question E10
  • [43] Question E12
  • [44] Question G5
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