March 15, 2010
Letter to the editor:
There was much discussion at many of the meetings regarding the need for changes to be made to the Young Offenders Act. I wanted to take this opportunity to further respond to this issue.
I am pleased that our Conservative Government has proposed measures to fix the way in which the young offenders system deals with violent and repeat young offenders. We are preparing to adjust the laws pertaining to young offenders to better ensure the protection of all society.
The proposed reforms will focus on three specific areas of the current system:
- All too often, the current system is powerless in keeping repeat young offenders in custody while awaiting trial, even when they pose a danger to society. We will be simplifying the rules to keep these offenders off the streets, when necessary.
- Currently, a youth of 14 or older may commit the most serious crimes including murder or aggravated sexual assault, and be punished with a sentence that is significantly shorter than what Canadians expect for these crimes. The proposed reforms would:
- require the courts to consider adult sentences for those convicted of these serious crimes when the circumstances require it;
- still allow provinces and territories the discretion to set the age at which one would still be considered a ‘young offender’; and
- ensure that offenders under the age of 18 will not serve their sentence in an adult facility if they receive an adult sentence.
- Under the current system, a youth convicted of a serious violent offence can be released into the community anonymously. For example, parents may have no way of knowing that a convicted sex offender is in the area. In cases like these, the courts must be granted greater discretion to publish the names of young offenders, for the protection of our society.
I fully support the proposed reforms dealing with violent and repeat young offenders, and from the discussions at my town hall meetings I know that many of you do as well. Our Conservative government will continue to act in the interests of law-abiding Canadians.
Once again, thank you to those who took the time to attend my town hall meetings, and for caring so much about your community. It is commendable indeed.
Leon Benoit, MP