Young offenders

The Youth Criminal Justice Act (April 2003) was created by the Canadian government in response to young people who get in trouble with the law.  The Act outlines how the police, diversion programs, court system and corrections system will respond to a youth who is accused or found guilty of breaking the law.  The Act applies to all youth in Canada who are 12 to 17 years old.  This means that the law applies to youth the day they turn 12, and continues to apply until the day they turn 18.

Legislative principles

The principles of the Youth Criminal Justice Act are summarized by:

  • Holding the youth responsible and accountable for breaking the law.
  • Supporting meaningful consequences for crimes committed by youth.
  • Gives legal rights to all youth.
  • Supporting the protection of society through positive solutions to youth crime that are long term and helpful.
  • Supporting a separate justice system for youth and that youth are accountable for their crimes.
  • Encouraging the system to respond quickly when a youth breaks the law.
  • Encouraging parents, victims and community members to be involved in responding when a youth commits a crime.

Our ministry's role

Justice and Solicitor General is responsible for the administration of custody and community sentences, including providing programs in support of these sentences, and advising the court of incidents of non-compliance with sentences.  In addition, staff are involved in cross ministerial initiatives involving youth, addressing educational, mental and physical health, treatment, and housing needs. 

Community based programs for young offenders are offered through a network of community corrections offices staffed by probation officers who provide supervision to young offenders.  If you have questions regarding Community based programs for young offenders please refer to Community Corrections.

A list of Young Offender facilities is available or by clicking on the locations map.


Benefits of a Youth Justice Committee
Responding to child abuse handbook
Youth Criminal Justice Act Pocket Guide
(More Documents...)

 Common Questions