Stakeholders’ Perceptions of Youth Justice: Perspectives from the Frontlines

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Anderson, Kristyn
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Little research that addresses Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) has explored or utilized the rich perspectives of key front-line stakeholders in the youth criminal justice system. The direct experiences of these youth justice workers, who daily interact with young offenders, their families, other justice system providers, outside agencies, and the general community, contain valuable insights that might meaningfully contribute to discussions of the effectiveness of the YCJA, and its Restorative Justice approach, as implemented in both custodial and community-based justice settings. For the purpose of gathering the perspectives and opinions of such front-line justice workers, a selected sample of professionals currently employed within the youth justice system (two youth workers, two probation officers specializing in young offenders, two restorative justice caseworkers, and a police officer), was obtained. Individual interviews were held in semi-structured, audio-taped sessions. Recorded interviews were subsequently transcribed and analyzed utilizing a discovery based, cross comparative qualitative approach. Data was coded at three levels, in a process of increasing refinement through thematic and conceptual organization, that led to the development of the following descriptive and representative categories: Young Offender Backgrounds and Needs; Stakeholder Roles and Responsibilities; Current Youth Justice; and Recommendations for Youth Justice and Services. Findings of this research reflect deep commitment and investment on the part of interviewed stakeholders and their general support of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Stakeholders, however, did identify areas of critical professional concern and offered 3 suggestions for improvement of the Act and its implementation in daily youth justice settings and practice.
Community-based corrections , Restorative justice , Juvenile corrections , Police services , Juvenile delinquents , Social work , Nova Scotia , Juvenile justice