Lesson 6: Youth Criminal Justice Act – Key Elements Part 2


YCJA Conferences

Enrichment Activities 1-3 can be done if the conference was not done in class by the students during the lesson.

  1. Read the scenario below and answer the questions which follow.

A Troubled Life

Frank Brown was a very angry 17-year-old of Aboriginal ancestry who grew up in Bella Bella. Frank and some friends decided to steal some alcohol from a local bootlegger but didn’t anticipate running into the man. They assaulted him very seriously and the community felt Frank was a dangerous young man. To make matters worse, Frank had been carrying a loaded gun. He was charged with assault causing bodily harm and armed robbery.

This wasn’t the first time Frank had been in trouble. He had a previous conviction for breaking and entering and had been sentenced to a corrections camp for 16 months. However, his time in corrections didn’t seem to have any kind of positive impact. In fact, he had been negatively influenced there by other troubled teens. The community felt Frank and the crowd he was running with were dangerous. This latest incident confirmed their fears.

A group of people who cared about Frank felt if he was sent to jail he would be exposed to a lot of bad influences and come back to Bella Bella worse than when he left. They were willing to try to come up with a plan that would help Frank understand his background, appreciate his culture and turn his life around. Frank’s early home life had been unstable and probably contributed to his troubled teen years. However, this latest wrongdoing was too serious to be overlooked.

Answer these questions:

  • What advantages would come from jailing Frank?
  • What are some disadvantages of a jail sentence?
  • What are some alternatives that might be considered?
  • What do you suggest should happen to Frank and why?
  • What are the victim’s views and needs in this case?
  1. Get together with some classmates and act out the healing circle for the rest of the class. Read the healing circle script (PDF).
  1. Frank Brown’s story is told in a video called the Voyage of Rediscovery (part of the First Nations Series, The Circle Unbroken, National Film Board of Canada, 1983 ISBN Number 0-7122-0490-X). Watch the video and make a report to the class on what happened in Frank’s case. What do you think he learned from his experience?
  1. Read the scenario below and answer the questions that follow.

Jackie’s Tagging

Jackie, 13, had some problems at home and got in trouble with the police last year for breaking a window. After dinner, Jackie usually went out with his friends. Sometimes they went to the park. Sometimes they walked around the neighbourhood and talked. One evening, they found some spray cans of paint and used the paint to write on the walls of several neighbourhood stores. A storeowner saw the boys and called the police. The police caught Jackie with the paint. Jackie could have ended up in court but instead the problem was handled in another way. Jackie and his parents had to go to a conference. The storeowners were also there. A facilitator helped everyone talk about the problem. Jackie felt badly when he met the store owners and understood that the owners were really upset about the walls. They decided what to do and an agreement was drawn up.

Answer these questions:

  • If you were Jackie what would you agree to do?
  • If you were the store owners, what would you want Jackie to do?
  • What do you think happened in this case?
  1. Take the facts of the case of Jackie’s Tagging and perform an impromptu conference for the rest of the class. The participants would be the facilitator, Jackie, the police officer, Jackie’s parents, and two or three store owners. Summarize how the conference went.

Victims and Youth Justice

  1. Read the scenario below and complete the activities which follow.

Road Menace

Over the last two years, James has been charged and found guilty of auto theft, break and enter, and three counts of theft under $5000.00. He turns 16 years old tomorrow and to celebrate, one of his friends steals some compact discs from an auto, which James accepts as a birthday present. The two boys also steal a pick-up truck. James crashes the truck into a convenience store while being chased by the police. He is charged with theft over $5000.00 and mischief.

  • Pretend you are the mother or father of James. It is apparent that your son is having problems staying out of trouble with the law. List 5 things you could do as a parent to keep James out of trouble, and explain why you think those things will help.
  • Pretend you are a good friend of James. You have rarely been in trouble with the law and you have lots in common. Before James gets in more serious trouble with the law, what things could you do as a friend to help James?
  • Pretend you are the owner of the truck that was stolen and damaged. Describe how you would feel and why.
  1. Read the following scenario and do the activity following.

Nelson in Trouble Again

Nelson is 17 years old. He has often been in trouble with the law. Once he stole a car. While he was driving, he had an accident. The car hit a tree. Nelson ran away but the police caught him. Another time he broke into some houses. Nelson does not live at home. He usually lives on the street. He takes drugs. For a short time he lived in a special home for youth. While he was there, he used drugs. He had to leave the home.

Nelson was supposed to go to court but he didn’t. The court ordered him to do volunteer work in the community but Nelson didn’t do it. A month ago he broke into a store. He smashed the large front window of the store and ran off with several TVs, which were damaged when the police finally managed to stop the pickup truck that he used to leave the scene of the crime. Nelson was charged with and convicted of break and enter and theft over $5000.00.

  • What do you think the impact of this crime was on the owner of the store? Think about the store owner’s feelings, the effect on his family or customers and the financial loss suffered.
  • What type of consideration would you give to the victim impact statement of the owner in this case? How would it affect your sentence if you were the judge?