Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Touching Spirit Bear - Post #1

In class we have been exploring criminal system that we have in Canada, and how the youth and adult systems differ. The Youth Criminal Justice Act is the system that Canadians use to rehabilitate and reintegrate youth who have gotten into trouble with the law. To further our study, we have also been reading a novel by the name of Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen. It follows Cole, a young delinquent who lives for ruining others lives and breaking the law. A person who has never faced the consequences of his actions.. and has never known love. Banished to an island, after beating up a young lad by the name Peter Driscal, he struggles to survive and rediscover how to trust.

We were asked to try and become the judge of Cole Matthews through the lens of a judge. What punishment would we give him and why? The beauty of the YCJA is that it takes into account the different circumstances that all youth face, and tries acknowledge them when it comes to their sentence. Considering that Cole had such a disturbing past and such anger built inside him, it would be quite difficult to find a sentence that suits his situation. On top of that, he had committed a major crime. Because of actions, Peter Driscal was left brain damaged. A consequence that will be there throughout both of their lives. Since his attack was so violent and lethal, he was placed into a detention centre. According to the YCJA, placing any youth into custody or probation requires a serious act of offence. This is due to the fact that such events could have a major impact on their lives. Also, Cole was known to have committed many different crimes as well before his interaction with Peter Driscal, and he had never gotten into serious trouble before. If he was to actually gain the right to Extrajudicial Sanctions (which he has in the book), the punishment would likely be much harsher than the one he would face going through the court system. But what would I sentence him?

Until Cole had brought a change into his attitude and accepted responsibility for his crimes, he would never be able to even enter the Extrajudicial Sanctions. In the book, it took a mauling by a bear to change his course onto the better. If he were however, finally going to change his attitude, he would need to learn to deal with the consequences of his action. Considering that until he rids himself of all the anger he has stored inside and dealt with all those he has wronged, he can never achieve his goal of what he wants from life. I would probably assign him something that would deal with all the things that he would later learn to regret in life. Somehow finding a way to give back to all of his victims. He could do personal service for some, write a letter of apology to others, and have face to face discussions with some. For Peter Driscal, he could try to help him deal with the brain damage that he had inflicted. Whether that means being a friend to him when he needs on, or being the one who attends to all his needs.

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