Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Suffering the Little Children
Let judges deal with kids as young as 10: Toews
Last Updated Tue, 15 Aug 2006 11:45:32 EDT
The federal government want courts to have jurisdiction over offenders as young as 10 to help them avoid further crimes, Justice Minister Vic Toews says.
When I saw this story this morning, my first impression was that it was another right-wing ploy to kick the shit out of young people. Let's find out if I was right, shall we?
The Youth Criminal Justice Act makes children older than 12 subject to courts, but under that age, social welfare agencies are the main means of dealing with delinquents.
On Monday, Toews proposed lowering the limit to 10 years of age, saying the point would be to help the children, not jail them.
Hmm, maybe I was wrong! Helping 10-year-olds, rather than incarcerating them! What could be better?
The courts should have that jurisdiction so they "can order appropriate treatment," he told reporters at the Canadian Bar Association conference in St. John's.
"Uh, Captain, I'm picking up a warning light here. A Conservative is using disturbingly vague phrases like 'appropriate treatment'". Yeah, and we know all about what the right thinks appropriate treatment of young people is, don't we.
The change would not necessarily mean charges would be laid, but the courts need some mechanism to intervene in cases where young children act in a criminal way, such as becoming involved with gangs and drugs, he said.
"Sometimes children, by the time they're 12, because the courts have been unable to access them under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, have in fact established a pattern of conduct that will be harmful over the long term," Toews said.
Ok, here's where the problems really start. Toews, being the nasty little piece of shit that he is, is attempting to paint a picture of children falling victim to a life of crime because our namby-pamby justice system can only sit back and helplessly watch while it happens. Which, of course, is bullshit (the following passage is from a document called Child Welfare 2000 on the Human Resources and Social Development Canada website):
When child welfare authorities confirm the need for protection following an investigation, or when circumstances change in an open case, a child may be taken into the care of the child welfare authority by means of a warrant or a court order to remove the child from the home. An application for a warrant or court order to search for and remove (apprehend) a child from the home is made to the court or a justice of the peace, depending on the jurisdiction.
In situations where a child is believed to be at immediate risk of harm, the worker (or police officer with statutory authority) may remove the child immediately without a warrant or court order, when and if delays may further endanger the child. In these instances, a court appearance takes place within a prescribed period of time to justify the action and to determine whether the child is in need of protection.
A judge hearing a protection case may also consider an application from the child welfare authority for a custody order for a child found to be in need of protection. A court order for a child's protection can range from returning the child to the parents or guardians under the supervision of a child welfare authority, to temporary or permanent custody by the authority. Each jurisdiction has its own rules and limitations on orders; these are defined in detail in the following chapters.
Far more despicably, he's also implying that social workers will actually sit back, look at a case file, and say "Yeah, he's nine years old and he's dealing crack, no need to intervene here!", but that's a matter for another day. What's got Toews' knickers in a big sweaty knot has nothing to do with any inability of the courts to get at these kids, since the courts plainly can intervene. It is simply that he cannot bring criminal sanctions to bear against 10-year-old children. Back to the CBC article:
Proponents of the change argue that, in some circumstances, children aged 12 who have criminal connections — carrying drugs for a gang, for example — may be too set in their ways to rehabilitate. Opponents say children under that age are not aware of the consequences of their actions.
The current act is based on the principles of preventing crime "by addressing the circumstances underlying a young person’s offending behaviour," rehabilitation and ensuring young offenders are "subject to meaningful consequences."
And that's what he wants inflicted on 10-year-olds. So, if you're ten, and your mother's abusive boyfriend is pimping you to his creep pedophile friends, take what comfort you can from the notion that Canada's Justice Minister wants you to face "meaningful consequences".