Hey! Today I am posting for school about the Youth Criminal Justice Act as a part of the class's Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen novel study. I am going to be exploring some aspects of the YCJA in relation to Touching Spirit Bear. Enjoy! :)
After severely injuring classmate Peter Driscal, the main character Cole is sent to a detention centre. From there, his parole officer, Garvey, introduces him to the concept of Circle Justice as an alternative to going to court and potentially facing jail time. Instead, Cole partakes in a Justice Circle involving many members who voice their opinions on the decision to be made on Cole's future.
If I were a part of Cole's Justice Circle, there would be several types of information I would consider that would help me to make decisions. I would consider Cole's circumstance, such as his background and personal life, his prior offences, the seriousness of the crime he committed, and also his attitude toward the crime and potential crimes in the future. Taken together, these things would help me to determine the type of punishment that would be most beneficial to Cole and the rest of society, including Peter.
Cole is obviously a very troubled youth. His life hasn't exactly been all sunshine and roses, and so he takes out his anger on other people. His father is abusive towards Cole and his mother never stepped in to defend him, mostly because she was drinking too much alcohol. To understand Cole, you must realize that, because of the abusive relationship between himself and his father, he doesn't know any different. He's grown up with the idea that hurting someone as a release of your anger is acceptable, which is obviously not the case. Furthermore, Cole is very alone and independent and has been throughout his life, as he has mentioned several times in the novel. He feels as if no one cares about him, and so he thinks he can do whatever he wants because no one will care about the consequences. He also feels the need to prove himself to everyone that he is above them because he doesn't feel like anyone cares.
If I were in Cole's Justice Circle, I would consider all this information. I would recognize that Cole has the ability to change, but circumstances have not allowed him to control his anger and learn what is acceptable. That being said, I would also not want Cole in the public until someone who understands has the chance to ensure he has positively changed. My decision would be to keep Cole in the detention centre and have people who have been in the same position as him and gotten over it speak to him. After that, I would vote to send him to the island to learn some important things about himself, but also to isolate him from the public while he heals. Personally, I would not vote to send him to island again because he did not prove the first time that he could handle it. I would look for another way to help him heal, like having people who understand interact with him as I said before.
Hope you enjoyed this post! Thanks for reading. :)