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Are youth offenders responsive to changing sanctions? Evidence from the Canadian Youth Criminal Justice Act of 2003

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  • Lihui Zhang

Abstract

This paper examines youth offenders’ responses to changing sanctions, using evidence from the Canadian Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), which replaced the Young Offenders Act on April 1, 2003. Using police reported and court based official statistics and the difference‐in‐difference strategy, it is found that Canadian youth offenders were less likely to be charged by police and less likely to receive a custodial sentence following the YCJA. These changes were relatively large for less serious crime and small or insignificant for more serious crime. In response to these changes in the certainty of sanctions, less serious youth crime increased while the direction of change for more serious youth crime was less clear. Empirical analysis on youth self‐reported crime corroborates the findings on youth crime reported to police, particularly for boys. Est‐ce que les jeunes contrevenants répondent aux sanctions changeantes? Résultats de la Loi sur le système de justice pénale pour les adolescents de 2003. Ce texte examine les réponses des jeunes contrevenants aux changements de sanctions à partir des résultats du passage de la Loi sur les jeunes contrevenants à la Loi sur le système de justice pénale pour les adolescents le premier avril 2003. À l’aide des statistiques officielles rapportées par la police et les travaux des cours, et une approche par les différences dans les différences, on découvre que les jeunes contrevenants canadiens étaient moins susceptibles d’être mis en accusation par la police et d’être condamnés à la détention avec la nouvelle loi. Ces changements ont été relativement importants pour les crimes moins sérieux, et mineurs et insignifiants pour les crimes plus sérieux. En réponse à ces changements dans la certitude de sanctions, les crimes moins sérieux des jeunes ont augmenté alors que la direction du changement dans les crimes plus sérieux des jeunes contrevenants est moins claire. L’analyse empirique des crimes des jeunes contrevenants qu’ils rapportent eux‐mêmes corrobore celle des rapports de police, en particulier pour les garçons.

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  • Lihui Zhang, 2016. "Are youth offenders responsive to changing sanctions? Evidence from the Canadian Youth Criminal Justice Act of 2003," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 49(2), pages 515-554, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:canjec:v:49:y:2016:i:2:p:515-554
    DOI: 10.1111/caje.12205
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