Conferences

Special Assignment

These ideas will help you explore the YCJA in depth. You can complete the activities for a classroom assignment.

1. Read the scenario below and answer the questions which follow:

A Troubled Life

Frank Brown was a very angry 17-year-old of Aboriginal ancestry who grew up in Bella Bella. Frank and some friends decided to steal some alcohol from a local bootlegger but didn’t anticipate running into the man. They assaulted him very seriously and the community felt Frank was a dangerous young man. To make matters worse, Frank had been carrying a loaded gun. He was charged with assault causing bodily harm and armed robbery.

This wasn’t the first time Frank had been in trouble. He had a previous conviction for breaking and entering and had been sentenced to a corrections camp for 16 months. However, his time in corrections didn’t seem to have any kind of positive impact. In fact, he had been negatively influenced there by other troubled teens. The community felt Frank and the crowd he was running with were dangerous. This latest incident confirmed their fears.

A group of people who cared about Frank felt if he was sent to jail he would be exposed to a lot of bad influences and come back to Bella Bella worse than when he left. They were willing to try to come up with a plan that would help Frank understand his background, appreciate his culture and turn his life around. Frank’s early home life had been unstable and probably contributed to his troubled teen years. However, this latest wrongdoing was too serious to be overlooked.

Answer these questions:

  1. What advantages would come from jailing Frank?
  2. What are some disadvantages of a jail sentence?
  3. What are some alternatives that might be considered?
  4. What are the victim’s views and needs in this case?

2. Get together with some classmates and act out the healing circle for the rest of the class. Read the healing circle script (PDF).

3. Frank Brown’s story is told in a video called the Voyage of Rediscovery (part of the First Nations Series, The Circle Unbroken, National Film Board of Canada, 1983 ISBN Number 0-7122-0490-X). Watch the video and make a report to the class on what happened in Frank’s case. What do you think he learned from his experience?

4. Read the scenario below and perform the scripted conference, which is linked below.

Edwin and the Slashed Tires

Note: This scenario is based on a real case but the names have been changed.

On November 18 the RCMP receive a call from a resident in the 1200 block of Pine Avenue. The caller reported his tires had recently been slashed. The RCMP attended the residence. Upon arrival, the RCMP noticed the slashing had to be recent, as the tire was hissing. As a result, the RCMP tracking dog was called to the scene. While searching for a suspect, the RCMP noticed several other cars within the neighborhood with slashed tires. Thirty tires were slashed. The RCMP saw a young male acting suspicious and stopped him. The male gave the RCMP a false name. Upon further questioning, the individual admitted he was involved and gave his true name, Edwin Green. However, he was uncooperative and would not disclose any information about who he was with. Two other youth were eventually identified and the knife that was used to slash the tires was found in Edwin’s possession.

  • Male 1 is 16 (Edwin Green)
  • Male 2 is 16 (Joe White)
  • Male 3 is 17 (Marty Brown)

All three are of Aboriginal ancestry.

Edwin Green has a previous record for a minor assault. Edwin and Marty were downtown Friday night. Both had been drinking tequila. The boys had nothing to do, so they walked over to Joe’s house at 11:30 pm, and then all three went for a walk. Because they were bored they decided to slash tires. Edwin had the knife and all three took turns slashing tires. One of the three would walk close to a car and stab at the tire while the other two walked ahead to keep a lookout. They did this over a period of one half-hour.

Edwin indicated he was angry that evening because at school a boy was calling him racist names. Edwin stated he intentionally went to that boy’s house with the intent to slash the boy’s father’s tires on two cars. From there on they just continued to slash tires all over the neighborhood.

All victims were upset and could not understand the rationale behind the incident. The RCMP and victims agreed to participate in a community justice conference.

Edwin lived in a series of foster homes and recently returned to live with his mother. He is in a special needs class. When cornered or frustrated he is prone to violent outbursts. He had a hard time understanding the crime from the victims’ perspective. When he was asked whom he thought was affected, his response was "they all have big houses."

There was a separate community justice conference for each of the boys.

This conference follows what happened to Edwin Green.
Scripted Conference of Edwin and the Slashed Tires (PDF)

 5. Read the scenario below and answer the questions that follow:

Jackie’s Tagging

Jackie, 13, had some problems at home and got in trouble with the police last year for breaking a window. After dinner, Jackie usually went out with his friends. Sometimes they went to the park. Sometimes they walked around the neighbourhood and talked. One evening, they found some spray cans of paint and used the paint to write on the walls of several neighbourhood stores. A storeowner saw the boys and called the police. The police caught Jackie with the paint.

Jackie could have ended up in court but instead the problem was handled in another way. Jackie and his parents had to go to a conference. The storeowners were also there. A facilitator helped everyone talk about the problem. Jackie felt badly when he met the store owners and understood that the owners were really upset about the walls. They decided what to do and an agreement was drawn up.

Answer these questions:

  1. If you were Jackie what would you agree to do?
  2. If you were the store owners, what would you want Jackie to do?
  3. What do you think happened in this case?

6. Take the facts of the case of Jackie’s Tagging and perform an impromptu conference for the rest of the class. The participants would be the facilitator, Jackie, the police officer, Jackie’s parents, and two or three store owners. Summarize how the conference went.