Mr. Speaker, on a summer evening a number of years ago I was sitting in our living room when I heard the sound of sirens. Now, that is not an uncommon occurrence on a Saturday night in the town where I live. However, later on I heard that there had been a drive-by shooting in which a teenager had died. The car in which he was a passenger was stopped at a red light when another car pulled up alongside. A teenage passenger in the second car leaned out the window and fired point blank.
The next day I mentioned the incident to one of my children who had spent that night at a friend's house not too far from the shooting. He told me that he had heard the fatal gun shot. I remember thinking “Just what is our community coming to?” I also remember thinking about the parents of the victim. A few days later the suspected killer was himself killed in an act of revenge. Again, I remember thinking about the safety of our streets.
A couple of months later on another Saturday night a family friend was visiting from the Queen Charlotte Islands. After dinner, as I was sitting in my living room, our son Jesse sauntered down the hall, paused at the top of the stairs, said goodbye to his mother and our friend in the kitchen, glanced toward me, and with a “See you later, dad” bounded down the stairs and out.
Jesse was a drummer and his rock band had been asked to play at a house party. He was excited. It was their first gig. Our daughter, who is three years older, left shortly afterwards, leaving us to a quiet evening of conversation.
At 11.15, shortly after our friend had left, Jesse phoned telling me that he and his two buddies were on their way home. They were waiting for a bus. An hour later the phone rang again. My wife answered the phone. She swore. It was the hospital. They wanted us there right away. Jesse had been stabbed.
A panicked five minute drive, hospital staff avoiding eye contact as we ran through the doors, and then the words no parent should ever have to hear: “We're sorry, we tried, but there was too much damage”.
A single stab wound to the back had pierced his heart. He was 16. That was October 18, 1992, on my father's 81st birthday. Jesse would have been 23 years old tomorrow.
Jesse was the victim of a random, unprovoked attack on himself and his two friends by complete strangers. He died in the arms of his best friend at the side of the same road, about a quarter mile from the spot where the earlier shooting, the one which he had heard, had occurred a couple of months previous. His attackers were part of the same loose-knit group of thieves and thugs involved in that shooting. In fact, it later came out that his killer, also 16, idolized the shooter and saw him as a martyr.
There was an arrest within days. The police informed us that the accused, because of his age, and unless the crown could successfully argue that he be tried as an adult, would be facing three years in secure custody followed by two years in open, most likely community supervision and then free with no criminal record.
Mr. Speaker, you have no idea just how devastating the knowledge is to a family that is still reeling from the murder of a loved one that there is a philosophy in this country which holds that three years of incarceration is an appropriate sanction for intentionally taking the life of an innocent stranger in a random, unprovoked attack on the street.
Two days after we buried Jesse a six year old girl was raped and murdered in Courtenay, British Columbia. Eventually her 16 year old neighbour was charged. He also faced a mere three years of secure custody and two in open.
That was my introduction to the Canadian criminal justice system and the Young Offenders Act. I am neither a lawyer nor an academic, but after 20 months in the courts ourselves, six and half years of involvement with other families and individuals who, in the words of a dear close friend, now belong to a club that none of us wanted to join, and the same amount of time listening to Canadians at shopping malls and soccer fields, not conference rooms and lecture theatres, I think that I am reasonably qualified to speak to this issue.
In fact, it was the refusal of the justice committee to allow me to appear in open session when it was in Vancouver in 1996 which pushed me over the edge and prompted me to seek election to this place.
Last Friday in this place the member for South Surrey—White Rock—Langley said that following my appearance before the justice committee a number of years ago a government member commented to the effect that victims bring nothing to this debate other than sentiment. I make no apology for that. For far too long our legislators and our courts have chosen to ignore the real human impact and human cost of crime, especially youth crime and violent crime.
I once heard that a Vancouver lawyer wanted families of homicide victims barred from courtrooms because they cried too much and might influence a jury.
Mr. Speaker, as you may guess, I have looked forward to an opportunity like this for some time now. The Young Offenders Act will hopefully be assigned to the garbage heap of history before too long. It has been a failure and Canadians have had to suffer its consequences for far too long. It was never a priority of various governments over the years. Obviously it was not a priority of the present government. The minister, upon taking the job, claimed that introducing new young offender legislation was to be one of her major priorities, but how much of a priority was it when it has taken almost two years for the legislation to come before us? What do we have? We have a new name. We have new spin-doctoring from the government. We have new claims of being tougher on crime, but we really have the same old thing wrapped up in a nice new package.
For every step forward there is a step backward. Ineffective legislation does Canadians a disservice. It does our youth an even bigger disservice as they are most often the victims of youth crime. Of course youth involved in crime are dealt a very questionable hand when the citizenry become so disenchanted with the law that they take it out on the offenders by ostracizing them or refusing to help in rehabilitation.
What has the minister been doing for the past two years? In the fall of 1997 she promised Canadians that changes would be made to the Young Offenders Act in a timely fashion. She was working on it. Over the winter of 1997 and early 1998 she claimed that she was not going to deal with the legislation in a simplistic manner, but was going to deal with a complicated issue in the proper manner. Then, under great fanfare, with all the splash of press conferences, fancy overheads and colourful brochures, the minister came out with her youth justice strategy; not legislation, just proposals. She was going to get tough on young criminals and promised legislation by the fall of 1998. Of course we did not get it. The minister claimed that she needed more consultation with the provinces.
It soon became apparent that what she really had to do was to shake loose some federal dollars to pay for her proposals. One would have thought she would have had this in place upfront.
Instead of getting long overdue changes to address youth crime, Canadians had to wait for the government to pony up the bucks. This was done to some extent with the February budget. We now have legislation. I suppose the government is hoping that Canadians are so worn out from pushing and pressuring for something they will be happy with anything. I assure them that we are quite prepared to flesh out the legislation. We are quite prepared to see what can be done to finally give Canadians what they have been seeking for years, but we will not be holding our breath.
The government has shown on numerous occasions its unwillingness to listen to reason. I only need to mention the funding for hepatitis C, debt reduction, breaks for overtaxed Canadians, conditional sentencing and two tier justice whereby the government is trying to promote one form of justice for aboriginals and another for the rest of Canadians.
The youth criminal justice act fails to deliver what Canadians expect. We will propose amendments. We are in this for the long haul and we will not let the issue slide as the government would like it to do.
The minister claimed that she would deal with this complicated issue and would take the time to deal with it in a proper manner. While we can certainly agree that she has taken her time, we have to question her claim that it was complicated.
When going through the proposed legislation clause by clause we found for the most part that it was the old Young Offenders Act rewritten and presented in a different format. When particular provisions appear to have been tightened up there is almost always a corresponding opportunity for the provinces or the courts to provide exceptions and to maintain the status quo.
What actually makes it complicated for the minister is her attempt to appease all the different philosophies within her government. Some want tougher legislation. Others think everything is just fine the way it is. Still others want it to become even more lenient. Some actually believe that society is to blame for all our crime and criminals are merely those that society has failed. No wonder we have problems in the criminal justice system.
Then we have the minister claiming that she needed time to consult with the provinces. She had to understand what the various regions of Canada were seeking in the overhaul of our youth laws. Obviously the minister has little faith in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
The committee spent many months conducting hearings from coast to coast. The committee listened to the provinces. It spent almost half a million dollars to provide a comprehensive report with a number of recommendations toward significant changes to the laws. I guess that was not enough so I will accept that the minister wanted more consultation.
Was it reasonable consultation or was it merely a stall because the government was having trouble satisfying its caucus? I suspect that there was not adequate consultation. I cite comments by the Minister of Justice for Alberta. He wrote to the federal minister to complain about this very issue. He states:
Despite your assertion to the contrary, there has not been sufficient consultation with respect to the proposed replacement legislation for the Young Offenders Act.
The government failed to include the major concerns of at least some of the provinces. Alberta, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island and Ontario are on record as agreeing to a number of significant changes. First on their list was the reduction in age of criminal accountability in selected cases to address the serious offences committed by children under 12 and for those in this group who exhibit a pattern of offending.
Calgary Chief of Police Christine Silverberg criticized the government's changes as not going far enough with violent children under age 12. The Winnipeg police inspector in charge of youth crime, Ken Biener, stated:
—she missed the boat completely in failing to adopt the recommendation to allow 10 and 11 year olds to be arrested and face the courts.
It should be of no surprise that this was not included. Not only did the government ignore their partners in the youth justice process. It also ignored the justice committee and its reports which included a very similar recommendation.
The minister attacks the Reform Party for wanting to include 10 and 11 year olds within the youth justice process. She characterizes the proposal as barbaric. She refuses to accept that our present system is failing to properly address and help these younger members of our society. She refuses to permit these young offenders to obtain all the benefits of rehabilitation and reintegration.
Instead, she leaves them in this vacuum where they do not get the help and the support they need. She refuses to acknowledge that the provinces want reforms in this area and the police need support in their effort to deal with violent 10 and 11 year olds. She refuses to even acknowledge that members of her caucus have publicly supported the inclusion of 10 and 11 years olds in the youth justice system. She refuses to acknowledge that the Liberal majority on the justice committee of the last parliament, chaired by our late colleague Shaughnessy Cohen, supported the inclusion of 10 and 11 year olds within the legislation.
We have all seen what happens to those few Liberals who challenge the views of the party management. Fortunately for all of us Shaughnessy did not suffer that fate.
There is another example of failing to consult. These provinces had demanded an amendment to apply the victim fine surcharge to young offenders.
Like the justice committee that recommended the same thing in a victims rights report, these provinces saw the benefit of having young offenders supply some of the financing of assistance to victims of crime. However the legislation does not include automatic victim fine surcharges. It merely provides the opportunity for the provinces to bring in their own legislation.
I also note that a number of provinces were seeking a mandatory custody disposition for youths convicted of offences involving the use of weapons. Once again the government has chosen to ignore those on the frontlines of the youth justice process. There is no provision for mandatory custody for crimes involving the use of weapons. It makes me wonder whether the government just has a justice committee to use when its reports correspond to the government's own political position.
As for consultation with interested participants, the government meets with the provinces to say it has consulted but there appears to be little intention of meaningful dialogue unless those provinces share the political position of the federal government.
I have mentioned a number of failings just in getting the legislation before the House. The government does not listen to its partners in the administration of youth justice. It does not participate in adequate consultation. It does not even follow its own committee when valid recommendations are made after extensive input.
Instead the government merely goes on and does what it wants to do for purely political reasons. It ignores the priority to do what is right for Canadians, including those youth that find themselves on the wrong side of the law and those youth that are most often the victims of youth crime.
I will now move on to discuss a number of the specific issues covered by the legislation. I will deal with a few positive developments first and then move on to some of the negative aspects that raise concerns.
The minister has decided to formalize the whole matter of police discretion. This will enable the frontline troops, so to speak, to deal with minor youth indiscretions quickly and easily. The occasional scuffle over a street hockey game can be resolved through police caution or warning. It is the same with most childhood pranks. The theft of a chocolate bar from a corner store need not go to a community based committee or even to court.
The minister likes to characterize members of my party as being one dimensional and interested only in locking up offenders. She is wrong. The hon. member for Crowfoot recommended this very initiative in his minority report to the justice committee in April 1997. He included it within his private member's Bill C-210. He understood the necessity to support the police. Many officers were already doing this without legislative authority. Others were afraid to use their discretion. They were concerned that they could be subjected to criticism as they did not have the proper authority.
The government has also made quite a big thing about their interest and the need to deal with non-violent offenders differently from violent offenders. It is regrettable that many in the media have been sold on this idea as being solely a Liberal initiative. It is really nothing new. In many parts of Canada there are already programs known as diversion, restorative justice, alternative measures, community based youth justice committees, healing circles, and the list goes on. All the government has done is to create an all-encompassing term, extrajudicial measures, to cover them all.
Again the hon. member for Crowfoot proposed his two prong form of justice whereby first time non-violent offenders could proceed through a more informal process. They would simply take responsibility for their actions and obey the requirements set out by any community based committee or organization. This was proposed both in his minority report to the justice committee and in his private member's bill.
The government cannot claim credit for this proposal. Reform was not interested in claiming credit. We were only interested in doing what was needed for a proper system of justice. We have had to bring this matter to public attention merely because of government attempts to characterize the Reform Party as one dimensional.
I have been personally involved with dozens of young offenders in a diversion program in my home province for some four years now. I want to publicly acknowledge Lola Chapman for the work she has done in this area. Lola and I have worked closely with the B.C. attorney general to expand the use of these programs. I am in full support of them in the limited circumstances of first time non-violent situations.
Some have expressed surprise, given my personal experience, that I would even be interested in working with wayward youth. We all know that as youth we made mistakes and some, I dare say, may have broken some laws. All most of us needed was to be taken to task for these indiscretions. If we failed to pay attention and moved on to additional crimes or more serious offences then we deserved to be treated in a more formal process. This is the same for today's youth. This is all we are looking for from legislation.
The final area I would like to discuss from a positive aspect is the incorporation of my private member's Bill C-260 in its entirety. Once again there was a massive leak of information about the legislation before it was actually introduced. Part of the leaks had to do with my private member's proposal. However, most of the media reports have misinterpreted this part of the legislation as something new in Canadian law.
These reports indicate that parents will be held criminally responsible for the crimes of their children. Nothing could be further from the truth in both respects. What has me concerned is whether the sources of the government leaks have deliberately misinterpreted this proposal. Furthermore, the government has shown little interest in correcting these misinterpretations. After all, it is now part of its legislation.
I have had to cover the issue on a number of different types of media. I have written a number of letters to the editor to attempt to correct the record. The law has been around for a number of years. My proposal merely enhances the potential punishment. It has nothing to do with the crimes of the young person. It has solely to do with the written agreement or contract whereby the young person is released from custody while awaiting trial.
The young person is essentially released on a form of bail when a responsible adult, usually a parent, signs a legal undertaking to supervise that young person to ensure court imposed conditions are respected. Both the young person and the adult sign the agreement. Both are liable to be charged with an offence if they each wilfully fail to fulfil the agreement: the parent for wilfully failing to supervise as agreed and the young person for wilfully failing to obey the conditions. The offence has to do with the court agreement. It has nothing to do with the ordinary responsibilities of the parent.
There is only the obligation to supervise. When the person who signed the undertaking becomes aware of a breach of conditions there is an obligation to notify the authorities. There is a high threshold to meet before a case may be made that an adult has wilfully failed to supervise as required.
It should be said that the initiative for this came from my own personal experience whereby my son's killer was in breach of a court imposed curfew that night. He had also failed to appear in court some three weeks earlier; another breach of conditions. His father had signed an undertaking to supervise some months earlier.
Obviously I support the legislation in respect of judicial undertakings by responsible persons. I will be interested in seeing how this portion of the bill develops. I will be interested in seeing whether members of the government attempt to claim this initiative as their own, and I do not really care as long as it gets done.
Impressing upon both the parent and the young person the serious repercussions for violating the agreement will protect members of our communities. Hopefully the parent will think twice about signing such an agreement if there is little expectation for the young person to mend his or her ways. Hopefully the young person will think twice before breaking the conditions of release and endangering the position of the parent who wilfully fails to supervise.
I will now discuss some of the inadequacies of the legislation, and there are a number. Even though I have been provided with a significant amount of time, it will take a number of opportunities to address all of them. Fortunately we have a committee process to go through. We have amendments to propose. At some time we will be back here to make comments at third reading.
Earlier I mentioned the concern with the government's scheme of extrajudicial measures. It has taken a valuable and progressive means of addressing minor crime and once again opened it up to massive abuse. It did the same thing with adult conditional sentencing.
Conditional sentencing involves serving a sentence in the community under some form of supervision. It may involve some type of house arrest. It may involve some form of restitution to the community through providing service with charitable organizations.
There are many uses for conditional sentencing. What did the government use it for? It used it to reduce the cost of incarceration. It said the jails and the prisons were too full and were too costly. It said that criminals were really not bad people and that mere arrest and conviction were enough to teach them the error of their ways. It said that the courts would not permit violent and repeat offenders to take advantage of conditional sentencing.
However the courts permitted all kinds of violent criminals to obtain this get out of jail free ticket. Killers got conditional sentences. Violent sex offenders got conditional sentences. Pedophiles got conditional sentences. Repeat offenders got conditional sentences.
When Bill C-41 was debated in 1994 and 1995 the Reform Party argued to restrict the use of conditional sentencing to first time non-violent and non-drug offenders. We understood its value but only for a restricted purpose. The government has been consistent. It refused to listen. It maintained only it knew the best.
Recently the Minister of Justice recognized the abuse of conditional sentencing. She requested the justice committee to review the issue. She will likely then procrastinate some more and suggest that perhaps more consultation is required. In the end she will do what is political. She will take much of her direction from the Prime Minister's Office. After all, he was a justice minister in the dim past and he is undoubtedly another expert on conditional sentencing, even though it was unheard of at that time.
Getting back to youth legislation, extrajudicial measures can easily become more of a problem than conditional sentencing. Under section 4(c) of the bill they are presumed to be adequate for non-violent offences. The word presume is key. It means that extrajudicial measures will be the rule rather than the exception in cases of non-violent offences.
Let us see how non-violent is defined. It means an offence that does not cause or create a substantial risk of causing bodily harm. This definition would include sexual touching, as there is no risk of bodily harm. Pedophiles cause psychological harm to young children. This definition would include the possession of child pornography, as there is no risk of bodily harm. It would include break and enters into homes, as there would have to be a substantial risk of causing bodily harm in order to avoid this definition.
This definition would include drug offences, including trafficking. Is there a substantial risk of bodily harm for selling crack cocaine in a school? I would hate to have to convince a court that there was this risk when the evidence is limited to one sale to one student, another sale to another student and so on. How could it be proven that there is substantial risk of bodily harm when only one hit of the drug is provided at the time?
Extrajudicial measures will be available to repeat offenders. While clause 4(c) limits the provision to non-violent offenders who have not previously been found guilty of an offence, that clause applies only to where extrajudicial measures are presumed to be adequate. Clause 4(d) permits these measures to be used even if there were previous convictions. It permits these measures even if they were used for the same offender before.
This means extrajudicial measures may be used 100 times for the same offender for any number of crimes. This means extrajudicial measures may be used even though that offender may have been convicted of a previous offence. There is no further limitation. The previous offence may have been manslaughter, sexual assault or murder.
Sometimes I wonder whether this government is interested in putting anyone in prison. This government is responsible for allowing all types of violent offenders to remain in our communities threatening the safety of our citizens. It seems intent on doing the same thing with our young offenders.
Adult sentencing will be available for presumptive offences but even for those where there is an opportunity for the young person to challenge adult sentencing in each particular situation. As well, the judge may only use adult sentencing when of the opinion that a youth sentence is not adequate. Presumptive offences are limited to murder, attempted murder, manslaughter and aggravated sexual assault. The definition is very limited. It does not include all types of crimes in which a weapon is used. It does not include kidnapping. It does not even include sexual assault causing bodily harm. These are all seriously violent crimes but they are not sufficient for this government to include in its presumptive offences.
The adult sentence for murder is life imprisonment. For those over 18 parole eligibility is at 25 years for first degree and 10 to 25 years for second degree. For 16 and 17 year olds parole eligibility comes at 10 years for first degree and 7 years for second degree. For those under 16, parole eligibility comes at 5 to 7 years. There is no change.
I attended the trials of a 15 year old and the 19 year old who were convicted for the savage murder of a frail 79 year old widow. She is buried just a stone's throw from my son. The 15 year old masterminded the plot, he was the more violent of the two, he targeted the lady because she would be easy. He had done yard work for her so he knew that she would let them into her home. The judge sentenced the 19 year old to 15 years before parole eligibility. He then complained on the record that his hands were tied by parliament forcing him to set parole ineligibility at only seven years for the young offender, and that has not changed.
I will illustrate further how this government just does not listen. In 1994 my son's killer was handed a parole ineligibility period of ten years, the maximum allowable at the time. When Bill C-37 was before the House in the last parliament it proposed to fix parole ineligibility for second degree murder at seven years. I anticipated a loophole because he was in the process of appealing the sentence at that time. I wrote the then justice minister, the current health minister, with my concerns. No response.
Bill C-37 became law in December 1995. The following spring the killer had three years knocked off his parole ineligibility period not because he deserved it but because the new law was made retroactive if to the benefit of the offender. I commented publicly, saying I told you so. A few days later I received a call from a justice department lawyer asking me what happened. This is what happened. If a letterhead or a call display does not indicate a university or a professional organization, this government does not want to hear from you.
I will briefly mention the second half of the definition of presumptive offence. In practice it will have almost no applicability. To be included within the definition of a presumptive offence an offender must commit three seriously violent offences for which an adult could be sentenced to prison for more than two years. A judge must have made a determination that the offence was a serious violent offence and endorse the information accordingly, twice.
A serious violent offence is defined as an offence that causes or creates a substantial risk of causing serious bodily harm, not just bodily harm, serious bodily harm. Most courts will have difficulty in distinguishing between bodily harm and serious bodily harm.
Would members like to explain to the victim and to the public that a particularly vicious attack only caused bodily harm and not serious bodily harm? Would members like to explain to the victim and the public that there has been only one prior documented incident of the offender causing serious bodily harm? We need two.
Would any of the members opposite like to explain to a victim or the public that this offender caused bodily harm a number of times in the past but he only caused serious bodily harm once so he still does not come within the definition of a presumptive offence?
Adult sentences are also available for offences for which an adult could be sentenced to prison for more than two years and if the young person is 14 or older. The very inclusion of presumptive offences and these other types of offences leaves the courts and our youth justice system with the distinct impression that parliament is serious about the presumptive offences and much less serious about the other types.
In case the listener thinks these provisions for adult sentencing will result in similar crimes receiving similar sentences for both adults and young persons, I point out some other wrinkles.
The overriding principles of this legislation include rehabilitation and reintegration of the young person. There are no words such as deterrence and denunciation. There is to be no punishment for the sake of deterring other young persons from similar activity. There is to be no punishment for the sake of expressing society's displeasure and abhorrence of a particularly gruesome or violent crime.
All young persons must be rehabilitated and reintegrated in a short period of time. This government believes they are all curable and pose little risk to our communities when they are returned.
This whole idea of adult sentencing for those 14 and older is nothing more than a con job. There will be challenges in almost every case against their imposition. Lawyers will be fully and extensively employed. Judges will be permitted to continue in their lenient ways. After all, many of them have liberal tendencies as most of them were appointed by the Prime Minister and his predecessors. The judges have unlimited discretion to determine when to impose adult sentencing and when to impose youth sentencing. Section 72 does not limit this discretion in any way.
The provinces are also involved, as the crown has the opportunity to support youth sentencing or to fail to provide notice that an adult sentence is to be sought. Then there is the overriding principle that these young persons are to be rehabilitated. They are not to be deterred and denounced.
The whole issue of deeming of young persons is of the same nature. The government sells the idea that it will be tough and young persons receiving adult sentences are to be named. The government does not, however, say much about all the provisions that permit the court to ban the publication of names. A young person may apply for the ban. The crown has the option of not opposing the ban. The court has complete discretion to ban publication.
The act is set up so that rehabilitation and reintegration are the primary principles to be applied. There is no requirement by parliament that certain crimes automatically require the naming of offenders so that the public has the knowledge of who is a risk to its safety and security. Even those who 14 and over who commit a presumptive offence like murder or aggravated sexual assault may receive a youth sentence and may be protected by a ban on publication of their names.
Earlier I spoke about the rape and murder of a little girl by her 16 year old neighbour. At the time of the murder he was on probation for sexually molesting a young child. He was allowed to reside in a complex full of children in complete anonymity because of his age. I do not think I need say more about protecting the identity of those who pose a threat.
As I have said, when this government does change legislation it does not like to change much. It prefers to change the packaging and the sales pitch. Canadians end up with the same old thing. In some cases we end up with something far worse. With the youth criminal justice act, the jury is still out.
The government refused to lower the age to 10 for purely political reasons. The issue has been around since 1962 when the justice department recommended this change. The government ignored the recommendation then and it ignored it today. There are obvious difficulties in this legislation such as the extrajudicial measures that may be rectified through amendment. The government is once again unlikely to listen and to admit its error, but we will try.
There are other areas like adult sentencing and publication of names that have so many exceptions and provisions that there is bound to be dissatisfaction and new calls for revision from the public.
The government has an extensive promotional budget and it has significant human resources to sell Canadians on its legislation.
Unfortunately justice legislation, unlike some other forms, takes time to come home to roost. The youth criminal justice act will change nothing. As case after case slips through the cracks the weaknesses will be revealed and disenchantment will grow.
The youth criminal justice act is nothing more than the Young Offenders Act with a face lift and a new name. I have been involved in this debate for over six years and, as I said earlier, I make no apology for the sentiment or emotion I bring to it. It is unfortunate that after years of delay, years of so-called consultations and deliberations this is the best the government can do. Canadians deserve better. More important, because they are most often the victims of youth crime, our kids deserve better.