Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Headline: Judge Unable to Jail Teen Bully

“Unable” because in Canada, assaulting somebody in a high school corridor apparently doesn’t meet the standard of “serious act of violence” set by the Supreme Court in order for a judge to be able to use this option...
even when the offender is already on probation, as in this case, according to the report.

If that is how it is, then something is wrong and fixing it might go a long way towards fixing the increase in youth crime in our cities.
For a long time, I’ve wondered why it was illegal to publish the names of “Young Offenders”, even after they reach the age of maturity (using the expression loosely). I found the answer here, in a section of the Young Offenders Act called The Right to Privacy:

A "right to privacy," in this context, has reference to the generally acknowledged principle that criminal proceedings against young persons should not, in all circumstances, be open to the public; and that the identity of an accused or convicted youth (as well as information from which that identity can be deduced) should not be publicly revealed. This recognition of the "privacy" of young offenders derives from the view that youth are entitled to special consideration in this regard, that they should not be "labelled" or made to bear a stigma for acts they carried out at an immature age.

Okay, I can buy that up to a point. For a first offense maybe, for a not-so-serious offense, or for a very young child, measured not only by chronological age but by other psychological means.
But to have repeat offenders of an age where they are considered fit to drive cars, protected in this manner is counterproductive to society in my opinion.

Personal responsibility has to start somewhere, and if the parents won’t provide it, as many can’t or won’t for various reasons, then somebody has to, and ultimately that task falls to law enforcement.
These kids know that their slate is wiped clean at 18. They consider it a free pass, and meanwhile my kids and your kids have to live among these people in school and in the community.

I’m reminded of a murder in my area about a year and a half ago, when a young man about my son’s age was killed after leaving a house party, by a then-17 year old. This case was in the news recently because they are still haggling over whether to try the accused as an adult - but his name cannot be released. Perhaps this is fair enough at this point, but if a conviction results why should the name not be publicized? Seventeen is old enough to drive, stay home alone, work for a living, and take personal responsibility.

This law needs to be revisited.

Cross posted to the CTV Election Weblog

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