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To What Extent is the Justice System Fair and Equitable for Youth? What role do Canadian citizens and organizations play in the fairness and equity of Canada’s justice system for youth?
What are we looking for? • There are many roles and responsibilities citizens have in the justice system. Specifically: • Following all provincial and federal laws. • Becoming a juror and being a responsible juror. • Justice advocacy groups have certain roles. • Aboriginal Elders have important roles too. • You are going to discover that there are many opinions on the justice system and possible ways to reduce crime.
Introduction • Jury duty can be traced back to the ancient Athenian society of Greece more than 2000 years ago. It was based on the principle that having multiple people participating in decisions will yield a fair decision. Jury duty has evolved greatly since ancient Athens; however, it still holds the same basic principle of fairness in legal matters today.
Introduction • Specifically, for youth justice in Canada, a jury can be selected when a serious crime is being dealt with in the courts. • People who are on a jury are known as jurors. In Canada, all adult Canadian citizens can be selected for jury duty. By law, if you are selected, you must participate. This is an example of one responsibility of being a citizen in Canada.
Fair and Equitable • It is mandatory to participate if you have been selected for duty. The effectiveness of jury decisions depends on citizens taking this responsibility seriously. • As a youth, you may not be able to participate in jury duty yet, but understanding this responsibility will prepare you as you become a more active citizen in Canada. • The importance that is placed on jury duty in Canada reflects fairness and equity in the youth justice system.
What responsibilities do jurors have? • Citizens are randomly selected for duty, and it is considered to be responsibility of citizens to fulfill this duty. • If you are summoned for duty, it is your responsibility to arrive promptly, make any work and home arrangements, to appear in court on time, and give your undivided attention. • Employers MUST give you time off for duty, but don’t have to pay you. People can be excused from duty ONLY IF they can demonstrate it would cause hardship.
What responsibilities do jurors have? • Under the YCJA, persons 14 or older can choose to be tried by a judge and jury for offenses such as assault or murder. • For these offences, juries have 12 people and all 12 MUST agree unanimously. • In order to be eligible for jury duty, you must be 18 and older, a Canadian citizen, and can speak French or English. There are some exceptions. For example, people who have convicted of some crimes can not participate.
Words to know… • DEFENCE: • Includes the evidence that support the innocence of the accused person. A lawyer presents the defence on behalf of the accused. This can include witnesses, DNA, and objects. • PROSECUTION: • Includes the evidence that supports the guilt of an accused person.
Words to know… • SEQUESTER: • Means to remove from contact. Jury members are sequestered to ensure they consider only the evidence presented in the courtroom. • OATH: • Jurors swear an oath to use only the evidence and the law to reach a verdict.
Let’s think critically… • Write a thoughtful paragraph on each of the following: • 1. What advantages and disadvantages might a jury have for an accused person? • 2. To what extent are rules for jury duty fair and equitable in your opinion? Are there factors you need to consider?
On Jury Duty • Read pages 80 and 81. With a partner, read, discuss and write thoughtful answers to the questions at the bottom of page 81. • What are the benefits of jury duty? • Jurors actively participate in justice • Individuals are judged by peersJurors are impartial when deciding on a verdict.
Advocacy Groups • An advocate is a person who supports or speaks up on behalf of someone else. This is another way people can get involved in our justice system. • In Canada, we have two major advocacy groups that work in the justice system: The John Howard Society Elizabeth Fry Society. • These advocacy groups are an important part of our justice system. They believe that crime prevention and control is as much a responsibility of the community as it is of government. They help to ensure youth justice is fair.
Assignment • Let’s look at their websites: Elizabeth Fry Society John Howard Society • Read pages 82 and 83. Based on what you have read: • 1. Explain what advocacy groups are and what they do. • 2. Answer the BTQ on pg. 83.
What role do Elders have? • Within the YCJA, there are Youth Criminal Justice Committees. These committees exist where volunteers agree to work with young offenders. • These committees are similar to sentencing circles that take place in some Aboriginal communities. • The committees act on the idea that breaking the law affects everyone in the community, so the community must be involved in solutions. • As respected members of the community, Elders play a vital role in this approach to justice.
Thinking critically… • Read the speech bubbles from Elder Rita Auger and Darrell Anderson Gerrtis on pages 84 and 85. Create a reflection chart like the one below: What role do Elders have in the justice system?
What is it like in court? Let’s check it out! • Let's go to court!
How does Canada’s justice system protect you as a citizen? • Fairness and equity are at the core of the justice system. As a youth, you are protected by the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which is intended to treat youth differently than adults in the justice system. This is considered fair and equitable for youth. • Find your pre-reading chart on youth crime in Canada. Let’s discover what your thoughts are now.
As well, citizens in Canada have the opportunity to be actively involved in the justice system. Participating in the justice system is a citizen’s responsibility. This includes being involved in jury duty and actively participating in advocacy groups. • You will use this knowledge of the justice system to build your understanding of ensuring the rights and freedoms of all Canadians.
Reflect and Review Answer the following question in a thoughtful way: To what extent is the justice system fair and equitable for youth? Take into consideration: • Key perspectives • How this connects to citizenship, identity, and quality of life • Describe your current position. Include evidence. • Describe how you could make a difference.