Family of man killed in alleged Toronto attack raises concerns about the Youth Criminal Justice Act

Lee, 59, was pronounced dead in hospital after he was allegedly beaten and stabbed by a group of girls outside a downtown shelter in the early morning hours of Dec. 18, 2022. The attack began after the girls allegedly took a liquor bottle from the victim and his friend, a witness previously told CBC Toronto. 

Shanifa Nasser, “Family of man killed in alleged Toronto ‘swarming’ attack breaks silence” CBC Toronto, 01/19/2023

All eight of the girls are between the ages of 13 to 16 years old, and they have all been charged with second-degree murder. One has been granted bail in late December, while the rest await their bail hearings on January 20, 2023. 

The family of Ken Lee expressed their concerns about the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). 

“How is the Act protecting the public if we don’t know who these perpetrators are and why they are released on bail?” 

“For serious crimes, these perpetrators should not have any privacy rights or bail. The public should be aware of who these individuals are to protect themselves.”

Shanifa Nasser, “Family of man killed in alleged Toronto ‘swarming’ attack breaks silence” CBC Toronto, 01/19/2023

Why are protections for young offenders important?

The YCJA provides a distinctly separate justice system for young people between the ages of 12 to 17. The guiding principle of the YCJA is that of rehabilitation and reintegration, not punishment. Since all the girls involved in this alleged crime fall between the ages of 13 to 16 years old, they will be passing through this system.

It is important to note that young people are still developing physically, mentally, and emotionally, and their brains aren’t fully developed. This includes their decision-making ability, impulse control, and capacity to understand the consequences of their actions. This is why they are considered less culpable for their actions than adults, but also why they are considered to have a greater potential for rehabilitation. 

One of the many features of the YCJA includes protecting the privacy of young offenders. This measure is in place to prevent young offenders from facing negative consequences such as difficulty finding employment, securing housing, and facing social stigmatization and ostracism. This, along with other protections provided by the YCJA, helps young offenders reintegrate into society and reduces the likelihood of them becoming repeat offenders.