[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Thursday, May 16, 1996
The Chair: Order.
Just as a point of clarification on our agenda, we have a vote on Bill C-245. We're going to need eight people to have that vote. Once we have that quorum we may interrupt the evidence a little bit. Mr. Ramsay is interested in the vote and we want to accommodate his schedule if we can.
Mr. Ramsay (Crowfoot): Yes. With respect to the members here, I will have to leave the committee at about 10:15.
The Chair: Okay.
Mr. Ramsay: But I'm very interested in hearing our first list of witnesses this morning.
The Chair: Well, let's get to work.
Now, the way we've been operating with respect to the Young Offenders Act is that we just let you go. Just tell us what you have to say. We appreciate having time for questions because, although you're appearing before us for the first time, we now have a corporate history and we're trying to compare information that you're giving us with what we've seen in the field and with what we've heard.
We've been visiting facilities on the east coast and plan to visit facilities and programs - not just institutions - community-based programs across the country. When we get people into this room we like to relate back to some of the things we've seen in practice that we've been impressed with.
So I'll stop talking and let you start.
Dr. Paul D. Steinhauer (Chair, Steering Committee, Sparrow Lake Alliance): Thank you very much, Madam Chair. This is actually our second appearance before this committee. We appeared in phase one of its hearings in 1994.
Maybe I could first start off by saying that we're here representing three organizations. We're representing the Sparrow Lake Alliance, an alliance of professionals from ten different professions that work with children: psychiatrists, psychologists, childcare workers, social workers, day-care workers, teachers, school trustees, judges, lawyers, police, public health nurses and public health doctors, all trying to get children off to a better start and to use the resources we have more effectively for children.
We're also representing the Institute for the Study of Antisocial Behaviour in Youth and the Canadian Academy of Child Psychiatry, which has a membership that includes the large majority of the child psychiatrists in this country.
I also want to mention that I personally am here in another capacity. I'm a victim of crime. Over the last two years my house has been broken into, my car has been broken into, the chalet I share with another family has been broken into, my daughter's apartment has been broken into and my daughter's bicycle has been stolen.
I mention this because I want to combat a stereotype. My stereotyped view of members of Parliament is that they think that child psychiatrists are soft on crime. I want to make it very clear that we feel as strongly as any of you people do about wanting to stop juvenile crime.
The Chair: That's Mr. Ramsay's stereotypical view of the rest of us, too.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Dr. Steinhauer: Look, we want to stop it because the nation can't afford the present levels of juvenile crime. We can't afford its effect on the quality of our society. We can't afford the cost of crime control, and in a global economy safe communities give business a competitive edge. So if our juvenile crime rate continues to rise, we're going to feel the effects in our business community as well.
The extent of crime can be seen to a brief extent on the third page of the document I gave to you, where there's a table called ``Developmental Outcomes of Present Generation of Children''. Item three deals with some statistics about delinquency and violence.
Mr. Ramsay: I'm sorry, what document is it?
Dr. Steinhauer: This is a document entitled ``Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, May 16, 1996''. It's a three-page document that I handed out this morning.
Mr. Ramsay: I have it. Thank you.
Dr. Steinhauer: Okay.
That will give you some idea of the extent of juvenile crime. A much more thorough discussion is in the paper that I believe you were given earlier, called ``Model for the Prevention of Delinquency''.
Our basic message to you is around what the most effective ways of reducing juvenile crime are, and what the most efficient ways are of using those resources and those limited dollars that we have in order to do it more effectively.
We suggest to you that there is basically a hierarchy of interventions. In general, prevention is more likely to be effective and efficient than early and even effective remediation in the community is. And early and effective remediation in the community is likely to be more effective and less expensive than effective remediation in custody. And custody without an effective remediation component is most likely to be least effective and most expensive.
By the way, I would like to point out that there is no way of having effective remediation without holding the youth accountable. Accountability is an important part of effective remediation.
Even though prevention is the most effective and most efficient it doesn't mean that we can ignore dealing with cases of established delinquency. And we must balance prevention with early intervention and with the management of hardcore cases, because it's those hardcore cases who do the most damage to the community.
Why this emphasis on prevention? Because it pays to intervene early. It's prevention that I'm going to talk about.
We have certain windows of opportunity in child development that close before the age of three. They include the capacity to form successful attachments, a forerunner of the capacity to relate successfully to other people. It is crucial to motivating children to change their behaviour and to go along with societal norms in order to protect the relationship with their attachment figures and in order to help them learn to soothe themselves so that when they're upset they can settle down and get out of it.
And it's also crucial in order to help children develop the capacity for feeling empathy with others. The capacity to form empathy with others has been shown by Tremblay to be a major protective factor against the development of delinquency and violent tendencies in adolescence for children who have many other high-risk factors.
A second window of opportunity that closes by the age of three is the capacity for developing emotional control. As Tremblay has said, all children are aggressive in their second year, but by the end of the third year if they haven't learned to control their aggression there's a high likelihood that they will be aggressive for the rest of their lives.
The third is the area of cognitive functioning. The prerequisites for school success, to a significant extent - not completely, but to a significant extent - are drawn by the end of the third year. It has been very clear from the research literature that there is a high association between doing poorly in school and being in poor control of aggression. For the child who shows some antisocial tendencies and does poorly in school, each will aggravate the other, and you're more likely to have a child who will both drop out and become an antisocial youth.
This doesn't mean that at the end of age three it's game over, but it does mean if we don't get kids off to a good start, we're going to be fighting a powerful current from that point on.
I've talked about Tremblay's statement that all two-year-olds are aggressive, but the capacity to develop control over aggression in the third year is crucial. Staying on Track, a study of children in eastern Ontario, showed that 23% of mothers claimed their three-year-olds were unable to control their aggression. This roughly compares to a study done twenty years before, when it was only 7% to 10%. So in twenty years, the number of mothers saying their three-year-olds can't control their aggression has almost tripled.
Tremblay has shown that by age five, that's in kindergarten, it is possible to identify which boys are at risk for developing violent and antisocial behaviour by their teens. Robins, in a major longitudinal study, showed that the child who by grade one, that is age six, has a severe conduct disorder has a 71% chance of being an antisocial adult. Meltzer has shown that by grade two, the learning patterns and the falling behind that is associated with and likely to increase the rate of delinquency are established.
In the model for preventing delinquency, which is the long paper I pre-circulated to you, I have tried to show there are effective ways of intervening at all levels, from conception through to adult life, that can cut down significantly on the rate of delinquency. From conception to birth, the goal would be to decrease the incidence of brain damage and very low birthweight.
From birth, the prospect of home visiting to high-risk mothers has been shown, in a high-risk population in the state of Hawaii, to cut down on the rate of child abuse by 75%. They cut the rate of child abuse in the high-risk mothers who were visited down to 50% of the national average and down to 25% of the high-risk unvisited mothers.
We know in high-quality child care.... By that I don't just mean day care. I mean high-quality child care, whether it be care by parents, by a relative, by a nanny or home care or child care. The child who is well cared for, in his family and/or outside his family, is far more likely not to be delinquent.
I didn't include it with this, but I've included in the other material I sent you the results of the peri-pre-school project. They show that for kids at highest risk for delinquency, high-quality child care - in this case in a school-based setting - for kids between the years of three and six....
When those kids were followed to age 27 and compared to other children who came from the same society and had the same kinds of risk factors, there were 50% fewer arrests and convictions and 42% fewer teenage pregnancies. The pregnancy factor probably does not equate exactly to our society, but certainly the decrease in the potential for violence is exactly the same.
They showed that 33% more graduated from high school, four times as many were earning $2,000 a month or more and were paying taxes rather than being on welfare, and only half as many had been on welfare at any point over the previous ten years. So an investment in good child care is one of the best investments we can make.
I could go on, but it's in the material I sent you. We can do things in schools, we can do things in families, and we can do things in communities. I guess what I'm basically saying once again is that the reason we should be looking primarily at prevention is that it is more effective. It's a more efficient use of scarce dollars and scarce resources to prevent kids from getting on the trajectory to delinquency than to deal with them later.
At this point I'd like to turn things over to my colleague Dr. Shamsie, who will talk about principles of sentencing.
Dr. Jalal Shamsie (Institute for the Study of Antisocial Behaviour in Youth): I'd like to talk from the standpoint of a taxpayer, because I find that these kids who commit crime cost us a lot of money. We have to do something about reducing our costs. That's very important.
In America one study was done where they calculated that the average delinquent starts committing crime at the age of 13 and stops by the age of 37. Between the ages of 13 and 37 this child costs the community $350,000 in court costs, probation, police, mental health, unemployment, and welfare. These kids are very expensive; $350,000 of my tax money is spent on these kids between the ages of 13 and 37. We can find different ways of spending $350,000 than spending it on these kids. They never or very seldom pay any income tax. I am paying income tax and they are living off my income tax. I want something to be done about that.
Where does this money go? Most of it goes into custody and prisons. When you're providing24 hours of board and lodging with supervision, that is the most expensive part of it. A kid in a detention centre or a training school is costing up to $100,000 a year. It's very expensive. We have to find ways to cut our costs and do things that have proven to be effective as well as cost-effective.
I was reading one study that in Florida more kids are being sent to adult courts than in any other state in the United States. That state has led in the direction that more kids are going and more kids are given severe and long sentences.
Recently they have come out and looked at what's happening to these kids who were sent to adult courts, treated as adults, and sent to prisons, in some cases to adult prisons. They have looked at what has happened when they have come out. The recidivism rate of these kids who went to the adult prisons and went to adult court is worse than in any other state in the United States. Those kinds of directions obviously are not cost-effective.
What we have to understand is a very simple thing; the majority of crimes are committed by a very small number of children. What makes the figures overwhelming is that not a lot of kids are doing this; a small number of kids keep on doing these things. It's repeated crime by the same kid.If we want to reduce it, we have to cut the rate of recidivism.
That, to me, is a critical thing. We want to make sure that when we catch a kid doing something and we lock him up, we do everything possible to make sure he does not commit another crime when he leaves our care. That, to me, is a critical point, because unless we reduce the rate of recidivism, we're not going to get anywhere. These kids keep committing crime after crime after crime.
What are we to do? How can we reduce the rate of recidivism? Being a scientist and a doctor,I believe we should look at the scientific method. In other words, we should look at every study done that has shown it is effective in reducing recidivism - not prejudices, not claims and counter-claims. I want scientific evidence to show that if I do this to the kid, no matter what it is, punishment or locking them up or beating them with a cane, it doesn't matter, it reduces recidivism, I'll go with it.
I am interested in making sure this kid does not commit another crime. Once he leaves, I don't want him to commit another crime, because it costs me money. I'm looking after my own interests. I'm not worried about humanitarian concerns. I'm more concerned about the fact that I do not want this kid to go on committing crime after crime after crime. That costs me money.
So we have to look at what works and we have to look at it very objectively, not that in Singapore caning works, or that in America 27 states have boots camps. I'm not interested in that.If you show me that boot camps work, I'll vote for boot camps. If you show me that caning works, I'll vote for caning. If you show me that talking to them until hell freezes over, I'll talk to them. But show me the evidence that something works.
What we know doesn't work is the kind of thing that has been done in the State of Florida - taking these kids to adult court and giving them harsh and long sentences without any supervision after they leave the prison. That doesn't work. These kids, within a matter of a few weeks and months, commit another crime.
What is up and coming? Let me just give you a little bit of history. About ten years ago I wrote a paper, ``Antisocial Adolescents: Our treatment does not work - where do we go from here?'' Some people took me to task for publishing that paper, because I said in the paper that psychotherapy, counselling, all these kinds of very liberal-minded things, sitting down and talking and going over the history - where were you born, and what was your father like - do not work. There is no evidence in research that sitting down and talking to these kids pays any dividends.
Ten years ago I wrote this paper, and since then I'm glad the vast majority of professionals working in this are not doing psychotherapy with these antisocial kids, because case work, listening to their problems and talking to them, is a total waste of time. It does not change their behaviour.
There's something new coming up - boot camps, or strict discipline, or whatever we want to call it. Again, I have no ideological problem with boot camps. My problem, again, is whether they do or don't work. In the U.S., a study has shown that within the 27 states that have boot camps, within a month 10% of the kids had committed a crime, and within a year 30% to 60% had committed a crime.
So again, I think we are on a path such that we are ideologically sound to have harsh and long punishments, but we've got to look at what is effective. I have no scientific evidence at the moment that it really reduces the rate of recidivism, so in all of our deliberations, I would urge you to take an unbiased look at anything that's suggested that reduces the rate of recidivism. You should demand that you want some careful scientific evidence before you support it.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Ramsay: I have a point of order.
The Chair: Yes.
Mr. Ramsay: We have eight members now. Can we deal with this other issue as quickly as possible, because I'd sure like to talk to these witnesses.
The Chair: I know you would. I know you have questions.
There is a vote on the motion of Mr. Gallaway that the chair report the bill, as defeated, to the House.
Ms Torsney (Burlington): As defeated.
The Chair: That's the motion. Is there any discussion on that motion? Madame Venne.
Mrs. Venne (Saint-Hubert): We are reconsidering Mr. Gallaway's motion, aren't we?
The Chair: Yes.
Mrs. Venne: Didn't Mr. Kirby table a motion?
The Chair: No.
Mr. Kirkby (Prince Albert - Churchill River): I think the motion was already put. It was tabled, so the motion still stands, and we can vote.
Mrs. Venne: We shall discuss this first, and then we will see whether it is adopted or not.We will then see if there are others. Are we continuing the debate on that point?
The Chair: Yes. Well, I just wondered if there is any other discussion on Mr. Gallaway's motion. If not, I'll call the question.
Motion negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings]
The Chair: All right, thanks. We can go back now.
Dr. Steinhauer: Dr. Davidson.
The Chair: Dr. Davidson, and then to your questions.
Dr. Simon Davidson (Canadian Academy of Child Psychiatry): Good morning.
I think the common thread that runs through all of us is that we are interested in a safe society with productive citizens. I think for that reason we collectively support the establishment of an effective justice system that is also cost-efficient.
As Dr. Shamsie has already indicated, there are various things that don't work. I think it's an opportunity for us in Canada to develop a ``made in Canada'' model, and not just pursue efforts that haven't worked.
I've circulated a document that tries to pull together the recommendations of the three organizations the three of us represent today. I'll try to guide you through them quite briefly so that we have ample time for discussion.
One of the major features of our recommendations - I think you've already heard some of it - is that we have to establish a comprehensive and systemic package of interventions. Each recommendation should not be selected or utilized independently of the others. Also, as has already been indicated within the package of our proposal, we need to have a continuum of services that incorporates prevention, which Dr. Steinhauer has spoken to, intervention, which Dr. Shamsie has started to address, and some form of aftercare through probation programming or community reintegration programming.
When we establish this continuum of services, we have to pay attention to the full age spectrum and the developmental needs and rehabilitative efforts that have shown through research methodology to be efficacious and cost efficient.
The goal of the interventions is to prevent recidivism. The primary purpose of sentencing is not to punish the child, but to ensure that the child does not break the law again.
We're proposing that there's a need for a national research agenda regarding juvenile crime, which would allow us to ask the right questions to avoid duplication, to pinpoint what gaps in information exist and to evaluate model projects.
We also believe we need to have national standards that would be recommended by the federal government to establish basic standards for all provinces governing all aspects of programming for young offenders.
When you put together a comprehensive program, you have to be very mindful of the cost. So an appropriate balance between custodial and non-custodial services needs to be established.
Then we need to look at indications and conditions for custodial programs. Custody should be limited, in our view, to individuals for whom it is absolutely necessary. For these youth, their developmental and rehabilitation needs must be adequately managed, and techniques and programs should be used to reduce the rate of recidivism.
So we feel that there is some leverage that the federal government would have in overseeing this, and that this has to do with not paying for custody that lacks a suitable remediation component or that is not suited to the developmental needs of youth. It should also only fund provinces when an adequate range of front-end and back-end alternatives is also in place. This is, in other words, the comprehensive program that we believe to be essential.
There are characteristics of effective programs. We need enhanced, age-focused rehabilitative treatment programs. We believe that all youth who are going to be transferred to adult court for serious personal injury offences should first have mental health assessments, and that a generally high quality of custodial services have to be in place.
We could elaborate on that. It's in the pre-circulated documents.
Fresh and seasoned offenders should not be mixed. Attention needs to be paid to the cultural needs of young offenders. We should also pay attention to the different placement needs, such as when to mix youth with younger adults and so on. In this regard, I go back to the suggestion of setting national standards and ensuring that these standards are met.
In terms of custodial services and violent crimes, suffice it to say that we're not opposing anything, rather, we'll go with anything that is methodologically sound. So we're not opposed to longer sentences for more violent offenders as long as the other recommendations around cost caps and rehabilitation programs in custody are being met.
In terms of upgrading probation and community-based dispositions, we also believe there should be minimum standards and consistency for developing a truly supportive follow-up program for children and youth, particularly those who are at highest risk after they are released. Otherwise, whatever efforts you've put in previously will just result in an increased rate of recidivism again.
We also believe there's a need for the federal government to initiate a community-based strategic planning process to educate the public, professionals and politicians about the importance of meeting the developmental needs of children and providing them with appropriate rehabilitation while maintaining an effective, comprehensive program.
Training for all personnel working with young offenders is critical in order to increase their awareness and their own and systemic biases and to neutralize existing biases toward visible or other ethnic minorities.
So once again, the notion of a comprehensive range of programs on a continuum is extremely important. I'd remind you that this is a complete program package of recommendations. In that regard, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
The Chair: Thank you, Dr. Davidson.
Mrs. Venne, ten minutes.
Mrs. Venne: Dr. Steinhauer, in your brief entitled The ``Whys'' and ``Hows'' of Mental Health Promotion for Children, you say in paragraph 6 on page 6:
and that is the key word,
And you explain the type of structures.
I would like to know whether you have any evidence of that type of situation when you say: ``may well assign the reduced transfer payments to existing institutional structures''. Are you just floating this idea? Coming from you, I don't think that's possible.
I would like to ask you another question regarding your statement:
Are you suggesting therefore that the provinces should have a minister responsible for children? Or are you referring to some other individual who will be responsible for children? I would like to know what you really mean here.
Dr. Steinhauer: May I first deal with the issue of the transfer payments? We had been told, before the actual transfer to the Canada health and social transfer had begun, that it was highly likely the bulk of the reduced transfer would go to institutional service, such as the support of medicare and support of colleges and universities, and what would absorb the bulk of the decrease would be social assistance and also social services. Those social services are primarily the social services that are most important in assisting families at risk with the development of their children.
When those decreased transfers are moved onto the provinces, the provinces can do two things. What usually happens is there is restructuring, which means downsizing. Certainly in provinces like British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, we are seeing that it is the social services that are being cut the most.
Secondly, what we have is that as that downsizing goes on, what it does is accentuate the fragmentation and rigidities of the existing bureaucracies and ministries so that the silo effect between various ministries responsible for the welfare of children becomes exaggerated. At the same time, this kind of climate discourages the creativity, the imagination, the sharing of information, the partnerships and the taking of risks that would be needed to really re-engineer systems and to develop new systems that would be more sensitive to the needs of children.
So what we're concerned about is that in the absence of standards for social services, what is going to happen is that it's going to be our most vulnerable groups, particularly children and the families of children at risk, who, without those social services, are going to be hit the hardest, and the development of those children will be undermined. My family is not going to be hurt. I can afford the kinds of specialized services that are going to be needed and that are going to be denied to families in much greater need than mine.
In terms of your other comment about the minister for children, I think the way it was wordedit suggested that there either be a minister for children or that one minister be designated as someone who would represent the needs of children for the provincial government to make sure that children, because they don't vote, are not overlooked as the provinces and the federal government sort out their new relationship.
Mrs. Venne: Thank you. That's all for the moment.
The Chair: Mr. Hanger, you have a ten-minute round.
Mr. Hanger (Calgary Northeast): Thank you, Madam Chairman.
First I'd like to apologize to the witnesses for being late. I missed out on part of Dr. Steinhauer's comments and I do apologize for that.
Dr. Shamsie, do you know of any Canadian studies done in reference to the costs of recidivism?
Dr. Shamsie: I don't know of any of the type that I quoted from the States. They have followed these kids up to the age of 35 and 37.
I would be very surprised if the costs are remarkably different from what's projected in the U.S. studies. These kids follow the same kind of pattern. They are in and out of custody, welfare, mental health centres, unemployment, etc. They follow the same pattern. I don't have a Canadian study done on similar lines as the one done in the United States, but I would be very surprised if the figure is remarkably different.
Actually, in our programs we do provide better care, so it may be slightly more than most of the states in the United States, where the money spent on these kinds of custody and training schools is less per capita than it is here.
Mr. Hanger: You mentioned that in 27 states they have been initiating or instituting this boot camp philosophy. As far as you're concerned, then, the jury is still out when it comes to analysing that program.
Dr. Shamsie: No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that the U.S. Justice Department has published a report, and I can make it available to you if you so wish. It has evaluated 27 boot camps in eight states of the United States. It is about a 120-page report, and what it shows is that boot camps are no better than prisons when it comes to recidivism.
I gave you the figure from the U.S. Justice Department report that 10% of the kids who had been in boot camps committed another crime within one month after leaving the boot camp, and 30% to 60% committed another crime within one year.
Mr. Hanger: I know that in various centres in Canada, of course, they have what they call boot camp facilities. They call the one in Winnipeg a Manitoba-made boot camp. In Alberta and elsewhere it's a little different. They're not consistent in their philosophy on how they're going to deal with young offenders.
I guess it's going to be difficult to evaluate. I looked at the Manitoba situation and it's not really that stringent. They call it a boot camp, but it's really a detention centre that's been altered from what used to exist. So in a way, it may be difficult to evaluate programs and try to compare them all. I think that's going to be a problem they may even find down in the United States.
Do you feel that those who are administering the justice regarding young offenders are moving in the right direction?
Dr. Shamsie: There are two things. One is that, as I mentioned, the U.S. Justice Department report says that as far as recidivism is concerned, boot camp was not that successful. It was no better than prison.
The second thing, which is also really important, is that it compares different states. You're saying that Manitoba is different from Alberta, and it's the same thing there. Each state in the United States had different types of emphasis in boot camps. In some states, for example, they emphasized a great deal of rehabilitative things like teaching them anger control and social skills. In other states it was just discipline. So you have a different emphasis.
It shows that those states - for example, New York has very good results - where some of the rehabilitative techniques were applied while the kid was in boot camp had better results. Most importantly, it shows that those states that had rigorous and intensive supervision after the kid left boot camp.... For example, in New York there was strict and very supportive supervision for one year after the kid left boot camp. They had a much lower recidivism rate than those boot camps where there was no supervision after the kid left.
If we are going to go that route, if we are going to go the route of boot camps or similar kinds of programs, at least we should include those features the United States has found to be effective.
Dr. Steinhauer: If I could comment, Madam Chair, on the second page of Dr. Shamsie's submission he has listed characteristics of those boot camps that were most successful. He goes on, at the bottom of that page and on the next page, to talk about what has been called ``multi-systemic therapy'', which has 74% non-repeaters after four years - leaving the child in the community but dealing with the child, the family, the school, and the peer group. That costs approximately one-sixth as much and has a higher non-recidivism rate than any of the boot camps.
Mr. Hanger: Dr. Steinhauer, I served as a police officer in the city of Calgary for 22 years and dealt with juveniles for a while, just through my regular duties. I saw the transition when the Young Offenders Act came into being, when, if you will, the legal beagles took over. All of a sudden the parents were cast off to the side, and it became a lawyer's game afterwards. They had control once that young offender was charged. It became just like the adult system. In fact I consider it to be worse, because the parents really weren't included much after that point. The state intervened, and it became very difficult to manage.
With that, I saw young offenders, if you will, especially the repeat offenders, become more arrogant, demanding to have their lawyers in front of them, demanding that they have all of this protection. And they were granted it through the system.
In my opinion, it really had a counter-productive way of dealing with the young offender. As a result, it seemed there was this core element out there that never really changed, and became the target of the police departments. In fact, because of the American situation, which seemed to filter up into Canada too, police departments across the country then developed youth units that targeted the hard-core offender. Nothing seemed to really come into play when it came to actually dealing with the offender, the family, and the community. It became a legal battle, and that's all anybody seemed to really care about. As a result, I think many of these offenders became hardened, hard-core adult criminals long before they really were adults. It had the opposite effect.
I would like to see the whole legal community get its face out of it, and maybe we could deal with some of the offenders, at least on a first-time basis, away from the legal community. Is that a possibility?
Dr. Steinhauer: I would love to see that, Mr. Hanger. I respect your experience. I agree with your comments. I think it has been really unfortunate that the way things have been set up now, we often exclude rather than support families to get reinvolved.
So I think anything that undermines the family, for those kids who have families, who could, with some support, be strengthened.... That's one of the big strengths, I think, of the multi-systemic therapy.
Dr. Davidson: Could I add to this? By doing so you would create a corrective experience for these individuals who otherwise are going to become adults themselves and re-create in their families the same dynamics they themselves have endured in their childhood. So it's not only today we have to be worried about; it is tomorrow and the next day.
The Chair: Ms Bethel.
Ms Bethel (Edmonton East): Thank you, Madam Chair.
I've served on the police commission for four years and was also part of the council that established the mayors task force on safer cities. We are really proud of the work we have done.
The good thing that came out of the mayors task force on safer cities was good solid recommendations to all orders of government and the justice system, to lawyers and so on. I guess many of those recommendations have been implemented within the city. But I think so much has been done. And I agree with you wholeheartedly on the need for national standards. Whether you call them understandings, or whatever, there is an incredible need for national standards in this area as well as in other areas.
How do we ever achieve this federal to provincial government? In essence, it's almost a unity issue, because I think this is the role Canadians really see our federal government as being all-important in. So what are we going to do? I am sure there is a role for you too, which involves more than just telling us. What are you doing with our partners about it?
Dr. Steinhauer: First of all, I agree with you. I think it is a major issue and I think it's a unity issue.
I think we saw this in the poll in Maclean's magazine on January 1. It said for those people who were proud to be Canadians, the things they were most proud of had to do with the sort of social security network considered part of the Canadian experience.
I don't know what the whole answer for doing something about it is. But one of the answers is that we are trying. This was the reason Voices for Children was formed. And as soon as I finish talking I'm going to get our first newsletter from Voices for Children and send copies around the table, if I can do so, Madam Chair.
We have set up Voices for Children purely to get the facts about children out to people. What do children need to develop well? How many Canadian children are not developing well? What does research show us could make a difference at each stage of the game?
We feel the answer isn't just more professional services. In order to get somewhere, we need changes in our families, particularly more father involvement. We're going to have to have changes in our workplaces, because it isn't just poor children who get into trouble. The children of professionals, of senior executives and of really highly skilled technicians are some of the most parent-deprived children in our society.
We also have to have a change in our communities. Recently one of our members was driving her car in an affluent area of Toronto, and a four-year-old was driving a tricycle in the middle of the road. She stopped her car and got out and took this kid over to the curb. She got down with her on the sidewalk and was explaining to her how dangerous this was and how she mustn't do it again. The mother came out yelling and screaming and threatening to call the police if she didn't leave her daughter alone.
This is not just an isolated incident. One of the things we're seeing is the breakdown of the civic nature of our society. For years we never locked our doors -
Ms Bethel: Dr. Steinhauer, my sense is you're preaching to the converted here. So I guessI would like to know what role you see for all of us.
Dr. Steinhauer: I think the Minister of Justice is one of the few people in public life who is trying to use his position to undermine myths and to educate people. I have respected him greatly for this. In particular, he has made some comments about the importance of prevention and the importance of the kinds of social conditions that lead to crime.
I see you people as the natural leaders of the country. I hope you will do everything you can to undercut myths where you see them and to get the truth out to people. It's being practical and effective to deal with -
Ms Bethel: I notice your institute is in Ontario.
Dr. Steinhauer: Yes.
Ms Bethel: Do you have alliances or allegiances in say Alberta, where perhaps there's more need to break down some of these myths?
Dr. Steinhauer: The major public education group I'm associated with is Voices for Children, which is an Ontario group. It's a major alliance that was set up by the Sparrow Lake Alliance when we knew that 200 professionals working in their spare time could never really bring about the difference in understanding that was needed. So we set up a group consisting of the Ontario Medical Association, the Ontario Teachers' Federation, the Ontario Federation of Labour, the Ontario Federation of Chambers of Commerce, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and the Canadian Mental Health Association.
We do have several national partners. We have as national partners the Child Welfare League of Canada and the Canadian Institute of Child Health, and we work very closely with Fraser Mustard's Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. But we're not a national organization.
Ms Bethel: I would think that would be a tremendous start, especially on this particular issue - the need for national standards - in terms of almost political action, not just us, but our ten partners and two territories.
The Chair: Mr. Wells, you have about four minutes left in this round.
Mr. Wells (South Shore): I want to follow up on one of the questions asked by Mr. Hanger and the response made, I think by Dr. Shamsie, about the nerve of some of these youths demanding a lawyer after they've been charged with a criminal offence.
You suggested you agreed with that. Are you suggesting they shouldn't have lawyers involved in the youth justice system?
Dr. Shamsie: I'm not sure whether that has been really helpful. I would personally like more involvement and a greater role for the family rather than lawyers. Both research and my own personal experience show if we do not involve the family of the youth, our chances of success are very remote.
Mr. Wells: My experience from when I practised is it was the family who came to the lawyer when the child was in trouble. Would you actually exclude the lawyers from the system in advising families of what their rights are under the youth justice system before they go to court?
Dr. Shamsie: No, I wouldn't exclude the lawyer, but I would make sure the family continues to be part of whatever is going on with the youth.
Mr. Wells: I agree with the family being involved. I'm just wondering if you think that because the family is involved, you have to then exclude the legal system.
Dr. Davidson: I don't think it's either/or, sir.
Mr. Wells: I agree it's not either/or. That's why -
Dr. Davidson: But right now, with or without families, the legal system is so backed up that you can have a youth who has allegedly committed an offence waiting to go to court, and in the meantime they commit maybe another ten to twenty crimes. So all of the crimes back up, nobody ever really pulls them all into one and it becomes a professional experience for the youth going to court for one offence after the other.
They get arrogant. I agree with Mr. Hanger. They get arrogant and think there are no consequences for their actions. By the time the legal system eventually comes around to addressing the issues through sentencing and so on, you have pretty hardened criminals already.
Mr. Wells: What jurisdictions are you dealing with in your analysis? Are you dealing with an Ontario experience?
Dr. Davidson: I'm using my own experience from my work in the Ottawa-Carleton area.
Mr. Wells: In this area you're dealing with, how extensive are the uses of alternative measures? Could the problem be the fact that you don't have the alternative measures that some other jurisdictions may have?
Dr. Davidson: There are some alternate measures, but I don't think they really kick into place until the legal system has decided what kind of sentencing to impose on the youth.
I'm aware of one particular youth who has absolutely and categorically followed the path I've suggested, and he actually has a family that is very interested in his welfare.
If we could find a better way of involving the legal system and the families in overseeing the problems of crime in a more effective way, then maybe we'd be on a better path. That's why we're talking about a more comprehensive program. But the way it is now, certainly in this region, is not working.
Dr. Steinhauer: Our primary goal should be the rehabilitation of the youth. Too many kids drown in the adversarial system that gets set up, and rehabilitation is lost sight of.
Of course there's a role for lawyers to protect rights. All we're saying is that the adversarial system often loses sight of the need for rehabilitation.
Mr. Wells: I don't disagree with that comment.
Mr. Hanger: In response to Mr. Wells, I was not in any way, shape, or form advocating that the legal community should be cut out of the process in its entirety. I think there is a place for them, but they should not literally control the whole affair. Again, this is from my own experience.
Dr. Shamsie, I've had an opportunity to glance at a study done by Mr. Edwin Zedlawsky of the National Institute of Justice in the United States. I don't know if you're familiar with this study, but it was on the cost of crime, making confinement decisions. He reviewed the costs involved in policing, courts, and a number of agencies and concluded that if you're looking at crime in the dollars-and-cents version, if you will, the longer you confine someone the more money you save the community. Do you agree with that?
Dr. Shamsie: The longer you confine someone?
Mr. Hanger: The longer you confine someone the more money you save the community.
We talked about recidivism, through the statistics. Where an offender is released into society early, he has determined that the confinement cost would be roughly $20,000 and the total social cost would be in the neighbourhood of $25,000 if that offender were to be released and were to reoffend repeatedly.
Looking at investigation, court costs, and going through the whole system again, it would be cheaper, on a basis of two to one, to keep him in jail.
Dr. Shamsie: Yes, but wouldn't it be cheaper still if while he was confined we did whatever we needed to do scientifically to reduce the chance of recidivism?
Mr. Hanger: Agreed.
Dr. Steinhauer: And then follow it up with very involved community support.
Mr. Hanger: Yes. I'm not disagreeing with that aspect. I'm just saying that, with the recidivism rate the way it is, this is what in fact is happening. Because there isn't this deterrent or whatever the case may be over on this side, after the offender is released, whether it's early or not, the cost of having him released and the fact that he isn't rehabilitated is costing this society a lot more money than keeping him in jail would cost it.
I agree with your premise that we must do everything we can to rehabilitate him so he won't reoffend and so he is a productive member of society. With the program or the situation the way it sits right now, that's not working.
Dr. Shamsie: Right.
Mr. Hanger: So I'm saying this is the cost of crime right now. It's more expensive to let an offender out into society, at a greater cost to society, than it is to keep him inside.
That's what Zedlawsky is saying.
Dr. Shamsie: Are these U.S. figures or Canadian figures?
Mr. Hanger: U.S.
Dr. Shamsie: I asked that because my knowledge is that in Ontario it costs about $40,000 a year to keep somebody in prison.
Mr. Hanger: Right, yes.
Dr. Shamsie: That's pretty high. A lot of people in Canada don't make $40,000 in a job.
Mr. Hanger: But Zedlawsky is saying that if that individual were released, he's costing society more through police investigation and courts by reoffending than he would if he were kept inside.
Dr. Shamsie: But the cost would be much less if -
Mr. Hanger: If he wasn't going to do anything. Exactly.
Dr. Shamsie: - he did the right thing while he was confined and then we follow him up in the community to make sure there is proper supervision.
Mr. Hanger: My argument is that with the system the way it is working right now, that is not working. It is actually costing society more because the programs aren't working to send him back out into the community and rehabilitate him.
Dr. Shamsie: Exactly. I agree with you. This is why I feel we have to look at everything we're doing and make sure that the dollars we are spending today are producing the results they should produce. They are not producing the results we want today.
Dr. Steinhauer: As I said when I started, Mr. Hanger, there is a whole hierarchy of interventions, starting off with prevention, which is the most effective and the most cost-effective. Then there are community-based interventions, which are really effective, and really effective ones where close custody is required to protect society. The least effective ones are the ones where we confine again and there isn't a successful rehabilitation component and then we turn them out.
The Chair: Mr. Maloney.
Mr. Maloney (Erie): You've advocated increased support to the family even as opposed to legal intervention, alternative measures, etc. In theory, I don't think anybody would disagree with you. In practice, what do we do when we have a dysfunctional family? I would say probably the vast majority of children who run into problems don't have really great families. What do we do if mom and dad don't really give a darn?
Dr. Shamsie: The study we are talking about involves a multi-systemic program where family treatment is the main thing. It has been shown that 74% of kids did not commit another crime within four years, so that's pretty effective. The main thrust was to work with the family, and only 11% of the families refused to join.
I know there are families that are dysfunctional, but when the study was done the involvement of the family was not that you come to my office and I'll see you; these people went to the family's home at a time convenient to the family. In other words, although these families are dysfunctional, they can be helped. The issue is whether we are prepared to go the extra distance to involve the family or whether we're just going to say here's my office, here's my phone number, you come and see me.
These families are too dysfunctional to take the kind of responsibility to keep an appointment, but if you go to their home at a time convenient to them, they are willing to be involved. The experience of this study was that only 11% of the families could not be persuaded to join.
Mr. Maloney: Another area you've advocated is earlier intervention. Would this also apply to lowering the minimum age for young offenders or lowering with an option, depending on recidivism rates or nature of the crime? Do you think that has merit?
Dr. Steinhauer: No. For reasons we discussed at some length in an earlier brief to the Department of Justice, I think about two years ago, we don't feel there is a need to lower the minimum rate. We think those kids have problems, but we think they can best be handled outside the justice system.
When I talk about starting earlier, I'm talking about getting children off to the right kind of developmental start, starting in those first three years particularly, but continuing right through the life of the child. Someone has compared it to a 19-wheel tractor trailer. If you want to go north, it makes a lot more sense to start it going north than to start it going south, get it up to 100 kilometres an hour, and tell it to make a fast U-turn.
If we get kids off to the right kind of start so that they arrive at school with the kinds of skills and personal attributes that will allow them to succeed in school and that will give them adequate control over their aggression, we're likely to have kids who will be successful in most areas of their life and be competent and productive members of our community.
We're saying that we have to get kids off to an early start. Just before I came in here, I was speaking to the health committee and was pointing out that in all the years the statistics have been kept in the United States, never have parents actually spent so little time with children. The time parents spend with children is down very significantly. The results of this are what has been called the ``family time famine''.
There are a number of different reasons for this. One of them is the fact that in 1976, before the globalization of the economy, one person working 41 hours a week could support a family of three and keep them above the poverty line. Now it takes 75 hours of work a week at minimum wage for two or more earners to keep a family of three above the poverty line. People are working harder. Second, the divorce rate is way up. Third, because of greater mobility we can't count on the support of extended family for parenting. And if you put these together, parents and children are having less time with each other.
That means - and I know I'm saying this at a time when there is a tendency on the parts of all governments to pull back and say they're not going to be involved in things - there is a place for government in the support of families who are having trouble raising their children.
And in those families where both parents need to work, we know, for example, that if senior public school kids are left alone before school, the longer they are left alone before school, at noontime and after school, the more likely they are to do poorly in school and to get hooked on drugs.
Kids not being well supervised is a problem. If both parents work all day and come home drained of energy and don't have the time to spend with their kids, and if all they do, therefore, is to try to get the kids through and get a meal on the table or get the place cleaned up and get the kids doing their homework - or even worse, if they just let the kids watch television and don't make sure the homework is done - and then get them to bed, we know that when kids are just told to do things or not to do things and don't get any of the fun part of parenting they tend to respond to even reasonable requests oppositionally.
Our major problem is that we have to recognize that many families don't have a choice. As a society, we need to get kids off to a good start, as I was trying to say, in the primary needs of children.
Mr. Maloney: Thank you.
The Chair: Mr. Hanger, you have five minutes.
Mr. Hanger: I'm curious as to what your view is on the handling of violent offenders, young people, 14 or 13 years old, who are accused of some crime such as murder. How would you handle that? How would you handle them differently than you would a property crime offender?
Dr. Shamsie: To me, a youth who has committed a violent crime has to be confined because the risk to society has to be reduced.
While he's confined for whatever specified period of time, I think we have to do everything to reduce the chances of his committing another violent crime. People think that the duration of confinement is the critical thing. I think the duration of confinement is one factor. The critical factor is what we do with him while he's confined to reduce the chances of his committing another crime.
Mr. Hanger: That's fair enough. However, I've run into several situations where a young offender committing a violent crime was sentenced to a very short period of incarceration. It was very clear to those handling him that he was not rehabilitated and that there was a strong chance of him reoffending, yet he was released out into society with no support evident afterwards.
Dr. Shamsie: That's very important.
Mr. Hanger: Yet the courts, because of their involvement, decided in their wisdom that a three-year sentence was sufficient for murdering his mother with a baseball bat. This is the scenario, and it's not one isolated incident. The courts are continually running into these problems, continuously.
Dr. Shamsie: Yes, but the issue is what you did in those three years. If you just left him with other criminals, where there is a kind of learning taking place through contagion, then of course he's going to come out and his chances of committing a crime are extremely high.
Mr. Hanger: Yes.
Dr. Shamsie: But you could use those three years to put in everything he needed. Perhaps he has deficits in language or in speech. You could teach him social skills, how to control his anger. You could examine and fill in for him the gaps he has, the deficits he has, the disorders he has. He may have attention deficit disorder, for example.
If you worked intensely on this kid during those three years and then when he came out followed him very carefully, provided support, encouragement and help and worked intensively with the family, then you are reducing the chances of his committing another crime.
So the need is not necessarily to increase the three-year period and make it seven or ten or fifteen. But the important thing is to use the three years to the maximum benefit of the society to ensure society is not going to be exposed to another crime by this kid.
Dr. Steinhauer: I wonder if I could take this from a slightly different perspective. I agree with Dr. Shamsie. First of all, with the violent criminal you have to protect society. Secondly, you do what you can to rehabilitate the kid. I think for some kids it is unrealistic to think you can rehabilitate them within three years. Rehabilitation is going to take longer, particularly for the kid who we would say has an attachment disorder, who has been so let down and so abused by his contact with the major adults in his life that he just doesn't trust anybody.
If they're in a situation where they are confined and contained so they can't hurt themselves or anyone else, if their needs are met on a regular basis, if the institution becomes the good enough parent they never had at the same time as it is containing them, then we know around the end of the second year 50% of those kids will start forming an attachment with somebody in that setting. And if this happens, they become accessible to real remediation because for the first time they're prepared to begin using this relationship with someone else to start changing their behaviour.
So I think there would be some kids whose rehabilitation needs would be longer than three years.
Mr. Hanger: You see, I think this is a -
The Chair: I'm sorry, Mr. Hanger. The time is up. I was waiting to hear what you had to say.
Mr. Maloney: I have just two questions. There are some among us who would advocate corporal punishment. I'd like your opinions on this.
Secondly, I'm not sure of the message you're sending us about boot camps. I think Dr. Shamsie indicated if something could be proven to you scientifically, you would support it. There are boot camps and you have indicated there are studies on them. Some have better results than others. Are the results sufficient to confirm scientifically for you that boot camps can be used in rehabilitation?
Dr. Shamsie: There is this particular U.S. study examining 24 boot camps. But the problem is on the critical issue of recidivism - I don't want this kid to commit another crime - boot camps haven't shown great results. What the study showed was boot camps with a rehabilitative component, which I list in my paper, as well as supervision after the kid leaves did much better than other boot camps.
The strict discipline of boot camp, the particular elements of waking them up and getting them to march and putting them to hard work has not to my satisfaction proved to be a therapeutic element in itself. There were other rehabilitative elements plus very intensive community supervision involving working with the family and the kid after he left the boot camp. Those were the things making the difference, not the strict discipline, waking him up at 5 a.m., asking him to march. I have not been convinced, to my satisfaction, that those are the therapeutic elements.
Dr. Steinhauer: If I could comment on the corporal punishment part of this, research evidence shows that if reasonable corporal punishment comes within a relationship the youth who's being punished sees as a caring one, it isn't damaging. However, if there isn't a caring relationship, or if it isn't perceived as a caring relationship by the kid who's being punished, the results are to make him angrier, more rebellious and more likely to reoffend if he's in the juvenile justice system already.
As far as the boot camps, Jalal, I think it would be fair to say that we're not advocating boot camps, but there are some jurisdictions that we know are going the way of boot camps. What we are saying is, look, if you're going to go the way of boot camps, make them good boot camps, ones that have an effective rehabilitation and follow-up component. So we're not advocating them.
The most effective model we know is this multi-systemic model, as described in Dr. Shamsie's presentation. But if you're going to go the way of boot camps, at least make them the kinds of boot camps that are more likely to be successful.
Mr. Maloney: How do you make corporal punishment, from the recipient's point of view, caring?
Dr. Steinhauer: If there's a caring relationship between parents and a child -
Mr. Maloney: I'm talking about the state and the child.
Dr. Steinhauer: I don't know how the state can make it appear caring, frankly.
Mr. Maloney: That's my point.
Dr. Steinhauer: I don't think the state can make it caring.
Dr. Shamsie: You're talking about boot camps?
Mr. Maloney: Corporal punishment by the state.
Dr. Shamsie: Nothing in the studies I've looked at shows that corporal punishment by the state is helpful. I've seen only negative things.
As Paul has mentioned, what's interesting to me is that some of my Italian patients were hitting the kid when he was misbehaving, a slap on the back or something. Then they came to Canada and found out they couldn't do that. They were asking me why - Italian parents bring up their children this way and yet they grow up all right.
Then I hit upon the study Paul is quoting, where they show that it is the child's perception of the person who's hitting them that determines how detrimental the physical or capital punishment is. If the child perceives, for example, his father as a caring person, with whom he goes to baseball and this and that, and they have a close relationship, and this father occasionally gives him a slap, that slap is not as detrimental as one from a father who's totally rejecting and neglecting and who beats him up. That physical punishment is much more harmful.
So it's a question of the child's perception of who is hitting them.
Mr. Maloney: Thank you.
The Chair: Mr. Wells, you had a brief question.
Mr. Wells: Yes, I have a question for Dr. Steinhauer.
When you were answering Mr. Hanger's question, which I thought was a good question, about what to do with kids who need more than three years, you said some kids need more than three years to get the help they need, depending on how damaged they are, etc. Then you said that could help 50% of kids. I'm just wondering what happens to the other 50%.
Dr. Steinhauer: Let me tell you, my major area of work is in child welfare, children who are in the foster care system. As far as the other 50%, some of them you can't do anything with. Some of the others learn to manipulate the system without having real relationships, but at least they learn that by not defying the system all the time, they get into less trouble, and life turns out to be better for them. Others, you just can't make any contact with at all, and they just go downhill.
I can't give you percentages of how many fall into each group.
Mr. Wells: So you have no recommendation on how the youth justice system should deal with those other 50%, then. Should they have terms greater than three years to protect society? Should they have some provision whereby if they can't be rehabilitated, they can be -
Dr. Steinhauer: You're asking me to go beyond my level of expert knowledge. All I can say is that the idea of somewhat longer sentences for violent criminals doesn't appal me if there's a strong rehabilitation component in it.
Mr. Wells: Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much for a very interesting presentation. Just so you know, people around here go beyond their area of expert knowledge all the time. We thank you very much for your assistance.
Dr. Shamsie, you talked about a report or an analysis on U.S. boot camps. I wonder if I could prevail upon you to send a copy of that to the clerk of the committee so that we can take a look at it.
Dr. Shamsie: I can send you -
The Chair: Or you can send the reference and we'll find it. That's fine.
Dr. Shamsie: All right.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We are adjourned.
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