Responding to Young Offenders: Diversion, Detention & Sentencing Under Canada's Y.C.J.A.

92 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2007 Last revised: 31 Mar 2015

See all articles by Nicholas Bala

Nicholas Bala

Queen's University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: October 10, 2007


Canada's juvenile justice system was profoundly changed when the Youth Criminal Justice Act [YCJA], came into force on April 1, 2003. This statute was intended to reduce Canada's high rates of use of court and custody for adolescent offenders, based on the belief that community-based responses are more effective and more appropriate for dealing with the majority of youths who violate the criminal law. The YCJA has resulted in a substantial increase in the number of cases diverted from the youth courts, a small reduction in the number of youth detained on remand, and a very significant decrease in the number of young offenders in custody, with no increase in the youth crime rate since the Act came into force. This paper discusses how the diversionary provisions of the YCJA are being applied, and reviews how the courts have interpreted the detention and sentencing principles in the YCJA. It includes a discussion of the way in which the Convention on the Rights of the Child has affected the treatment of juvenile offenders in Canada's courts.

Suggested Citation

Bala, Nicholas C., Responding to Young Offenders: Diversion, Detention & Sentencing Under Canada's Y.C.J.A. (October 10, 2007). Queen's Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-10, Queen's University Legal Research Paper No. 2015-027, Available at SSRN: or

Nicholas C. Bala (Contact Author)

Queen's University - Faculty of Law ( email )

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