Black Youth and the Criminal Justice System: Summary Report of an Engagement Process in Canada


This report is reflective of the experiences of Black youth across Canada but not exhaustive due to five main limitations. The Black youth included in the engagement sessions are between the ages of 18 and 29. The experiences of those currently 12 to 17 are not included because contacting these youth would require a court order. Since many of the Black youth participants also have experiences with the adult CJS, it is possible that some of their stories merge experiences they have had in the youth and adult systems without distinguishing. Moreover, gendered differences in factors contributing to interactions with the CJS could not be discussed because most of the youth participants were boys and men, with the exception of two Black female youth in Montreal and Calgary. Another limitation is that the engagement sessions described in this report stem from six cities in five provinces. Thus, the experiences of Black youth in other provinces and territories and in rural areas of Canada are not included. Lastly, the pandemic presented an important limitation as it had an impact on the level of participation in these engagement sessions. The move to virtual sessions deterred some participants from taking part in this process. Some youth were concerned about being identified through virtual involvement. Further, technical challenges such as limited access to internet and communications devices prevented some participants, often the most vulnerable, from being reached. Therefore, those voices are missing from this report.