The choice to use custodial sentencing as the dominant punishment solution, or to invest in the
development and implementation of juvenile diversion programs aimed at addressing the root
causes of crime, has remained a point of contention between decision makers in Canada.1
Seemingly contradictory behaviour between the Canadian Federal Government and the Calgary
Police Service lead me to conduct an inquiry into the effectiveness of existing methods of
intervention for youth crime in society. An extensive literature review and cost analysis revealed
that recent legislation promoting the use of incarceration is not likely to generate desirable social or
financial benefits for Canada. Rather, methods of early intervention and multi-systemic therapy
should be pursued as a means to reduce crime in society, and incarceration should be utilized only
as a last resort. Although there is a convincing body of discernable evidence in favour of
preventative and circumstantial reactive methods in the community, the investment in such
programs can be a hard political sell. Using a cost analysis and a rough calculation of Alberta’s
Willingness To Pay (WTP) to reduce crime, I am able to conclude that the implementation of
juvenile diversion programming should not be viewed as politically risky, but instead should be
viewed as being politically advantageous.
Sexsmith, Samantha. (2015). How Investing in At-Risk Youth Today Will Save Albertans Money in the Future ( Unpublished master's thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.