In 2003, before the Youth Criminal Justice Act was passed, Canada had one of the highest youth-incarceration rates among Western countries.
Canadian Children's Rights Council editor's note:
For information on the more current statistics see: Statistics Canada / Statistique Canada, December 1, 2005 "Youth correctional services: Key indicators"
2003/04 The number of young people in sentenced custody decreased by half, and the numbers on remand and probation have been reduced considerably since the introduction of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. More ..
Source: Department of Justice Canada
"Applying the Criminal Law to Youth: Overreaching
When Canada began its renewal of the youth justice system, about 125,000 youth were being charged with criminal offences each year. If these charges were being spread evenly over the population of young people, one in twenty youth would be charged with an offence per year. This much higher than the charge rates of other countries and would suggest that the criminal law was being applied too readily to youth. Further, about 25,000 sentences to custody were meted out per year  resulting in an incarceration rate that was likely the highest among Western countries and incommensurate with the seriousness of Canada's youth crime problem. Canada was imposing custody on youth, its most serious deprivation of liberties, at four times the rate it was being applied to adults. Restraint in the use of the criminal law against youth was not reflected in the practice of the youth justice system."
 Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. ( a division of StatsCan, the national statistics agency of the federal government of Canada) Canadian Crime Statistics, 1996. Ottawa: Minister of Industry, 1997. 22 p
 Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. Youth Court Survey, 1995-96. Ottawa: Minster of Industry, 1997. 16 p.
Link to source click here
For a good overview of the justice system for Canadian youth since 1900, visit the link above "click here" in the previous paragraph which takes you to the the specific web page in the Department of Justice - Canada
Fewer youths behind bars
Toronto Star, TRACY HUFFMAN, CRIME REPORTER, Oct. 14, 2004
Fewer youths are being sent to jail for their crimes.
The incarceration rate for youths in Canada reached an eight-year low in 2002/2003, according to a Statistics Canada report released yesterday. About 90 per cent of young offenders were on supervised probation, 7 per cent were serving time in jail and 3 per cent were in custody awaiting a court appearance or sentencing. More..
There are now more inmates in Ontario jails awaiting trial than serving sentences
There are now more inmates in Ontario jails awaiting trial than serving sentences; 62.7 per cent are charged but not convicted. - Ontario's Criminal Lawyers' Association
"In fact, speakers at a recent conference held by Ontario's Criminal Lawyers' Association suggested that misleading police reports could be contributing to the growing number of people held in pre-trial custody. There are now more inmates in Ontario jails awaiting trial than serving sentences; 62.7 per cent are charged but not convicted." - Toronto Star- January 6, 2004
Government of Ontario closing Horrific Toronto Youth Jail that violates children's human rights
Plea to reduce child inmates follows a spate of jail suicides in U.K.
The Independent, U.K., Tuesday 11th January 2005, By Nigel Morris, Home Affairs Correspondent
Young offenders at serious risk of harming themselves are being locked up although they are too vulnerable for life behind bars, the head of the Youth Justice Board (YJB) admitted yesterday.
Following a spate of suicides among children in custody in recent years and fears that the number of teenagers behind bars could be about to rise, Rod Morgan delivered a grim warning of the pressures faced by the youth justice system. In an interview with The Independent, he appealed to the courts to jail fewer youngsters and called for extra resources to be found for children with severe mental health problems. Twenty-seven children have died in custody since 1990, including two last year, prompting the United Nations to accuse Britain of failing to respect the human rights of young offenders.