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NCJ Number: 73332 Find in a Library
Title: Dejudiciarization of Youthful Delinquents - The Quebecer Situation
Journal: Deviance et Societe  Volume:4  Issue:3  Dated:(September 1980)  Pages:245-256
Author(s): J Trepanier
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 12
Format: Article
Language: French
Country: Switzerland
Annotation: Quebec has dejudicialized juvenile delinquency by legislation extending its Youth Protection Act to cover youthful offenders abandoned, neglected, and abused children.
Abstract: Canadian provinces can legislate only on youth protection matters, while the Canadian Parliament has the constitutional right to legislate on criminal matters. Socially handicapped and delinquent youth are therefore under the double jurisdiction of the Federal Government if they have broken a law and of a Province if they need help. The Canadian Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act, substantially unchanged since its enactment in 1908, mandates the referral of juvenile offenders, after a police investigation, to a juvenile court for adjudication or diversion. No filtering mechanism is provided between the police and the court. In 1979, however, a Provincial law passed in Quebec mandates the referral of all children who have committed an antisocial act to a Social Service Center which is empowered to decide on the corrective measures needed in each case. If all parties involved accept the Center's decison, no judicial intervention is needed, although it cannot be automatically ruled out. Clients who reject the Center's decisions are referred to juvenile court. Quebec's National Assembly has thus legislated the dejudicialization of juvenile delinquents the diversionary powers of the police. The decisions made by the Social Service Centers must, however, be ratified by representatives of the Canadian Ministry of Justice, often chosen from among the police ranks. In cases of disagreement between Social Service Center and Ministry of Justice representatives, the Youth Protection Commission makes the final decision. One of the problems of this arrangement is the uncertain Federal constitutionality of the Provincial law, which cannot override the Federal right to prosecute juvenile offenders, even when they agree to comply with the Social Service Centers' decisions. Moreover, the informality and confidentiality of this sort of diversion may curtail, rather than enhance, the rights of minors as compared to a juvenile court trial. At the latter, defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence, which is absent from the Centers' considerations. Center officials also possess excessive discretionary powers and may be tempted to exercise too much control on, and interference with, the lives of their clients and their families. Ten references are appended. --in French.
Index Term(s): Canada; Child protection services; Diversion programs; Foreign juvenile justice systems; Juvenile codes; Juvenile court diversion; Psychiatric services; Quebec; Rights of minors; Social service agencies
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