Where do youth serve custodial sentences?
- Kate Mitchell
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If a young person receives a youth sentence, then they will generally serve it in a youth correctional facility. Once the youth turns 18 years old, then an application can be brought by the provincial director to authorize the transfer of the young person to a provincial correctional facility for adults (if it’s in the best interests of the young person or in the public interest). A youth justice can also authorize a transfer to a penitentiary, if it is in the best interests of the young person or in the public interest, certain procedural requirements are followed, and there are two years or more remaining on the sentence.
However, if a person is 20 years or older at the time the sentence is imposed, then the person must serve the custodial portion of the sentence in a provincial correctional facility for adults. If an application is brought by the provincial director after the youth starts to serve their sentence in a provincial correctional facility, then a youth justice court can direct the young person to serve their youth sentence in a penitentiary. This only applies if it would be in the best interests of the young person or in the public interest, and if the remainder of the sentence is 2 years or more.
If a youth receives an adult sentence, then a judge has to decide if the young person will serve the sentence in a youth correctional facility, provincial correctional facility for adults, or penitentiary (if the sentence is 2 years or more). Young persons under 18 years old cannot be sent to a provincial correctional facility for adults or penitentiary. There is a process for reviewing a judge’s placement decision if there is a change of circumstances. Once a youth turns 20 years old, they are typically not supposed to remain in a youth facility, unless a youth justice is satisfied that remaining there would be in the best interests of the young person and would not jeopardize the safety of others.
Some situations can be more complicated though, for example, if a young person is serving a youth sentence and receives a sentence under an act other than the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Therefore, it is important to seek legal advice prior to a young person’s sentencing.