Responding to Youth Crime in Canada


306 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-8856-2
DDC 364.36'0971




Reviewed by Geoff Hamilton

Geoff Hamilton is a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of
British Columbia.


Doob and Cesaroni explore here the impact of the Youth Criminal Justice
Act (a series of legal reforms that came into effect in the spring of
2003) on Canada’s youth justice system. The book’s 11 chapters cover
the evolution of the youth justice system in Canada, the rationale
behind the system currently in place, the changing characteristics of
youth crime and youth criminals, various social responses to offenders,
the legal processing of youths, the impact of placing youths in custody,
and recent reforms to the system. One of the authors’ key arguments is
that reformers ought to rely on institutions outside the youth justice
system in order to address the problem of youth crime more effectively.

The authors provide a comprehensive overview of the evolution of our
responses to youth crime in Canada, and persuasively argue for needed
changes to contemporary approaches to the problem. They do an exemplary
job debunking many of the myths surrounding youth crime—particularly
in regard to the impact of the Young Offenders Act—and in arguing for
more flexible responses to deviant youth from institutions other than
the youth justice system. Particularly effective is the authors’
discussion of the inadequacy of various politically motivated “quick
fixes” to youth crime. The authors argue that “[t]he challenge is to
find an appropriate way of dealing with specific offences so

that the process has an integrative effect on the young person and is,
at the same time, just, acceptable to the victim, and acceptable to the
community. The problem with most criminal justice or court-based
‘dispositions’ of cases is that they have none of these goals as
main purposes.” Doob and Cesaroni also argue that the reintegration of
youthful offenders into the community—an essential component of any
successful strategy for addressing youth crime—is “neither addressed
nor is it an explicit goal of most dispositions.”

This book is a valuable contribution to the literature, and it should
be of great interest to any scholars working in the area of youth and


Doob, Anthony, and Cesaroni., “Responding to Youth Crime in Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed August 19, 2022,