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Should juvenile offenders be treated differently to adult offenders?

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Introduction

The Criminal Process and Sentencing/Punishment Should juvenile offenders be treated differently to adult offenders? Juvenile offender's also known as young offenders are classified in an individual section of the criminal justice system Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987 (NSW). This is known as the Juvenile Justice System which describes how juveniles are treated in the criminal justice system. It incorporates legislation, policing, the courts and aspects of welfare including criminology, crime prevention strategies, punishment and rehabilitation. Juvenile Justice Law is not Commonwealth Law however; it is State Law with each state in Australia having their own laws. New South Wales is the largest juvenile justice jurisdiction in Australia, once you turn 10 years you can be charged with a criminal offence. However, juvenile justice is part of International Law and it is seen that juveniles should be treated differently from adults in the criminal justice system. This is as; there are different ways in which you deal with children opposed to adults. This includes separate courts and prisons for each. Both children and adults are subjected to the same Criminal Law, however, if a criminal offence is committed children are differently treated. There are specific rules about the criminal proceedings which include: no child under the age of 10 can be charged with a crime, the police must prove the elements of the offence for children between the age of 10- 14 as well as that the child knew what they were doing was wrong not just naughty. ...read more.

Middle

Children's Courts are unlike other courts as they are: closed to the public, the media are allowed to be present unless the magistrate or judge/s deem otherwise. However the name or other information that might identify an offender, or witness must not be published without the consent of a child over 16 years or consent of the court for children under 16. This is to protect the identity and privacy of the juvenile as well as the main objective of the Juvenile Justice System to rehabilitate and re-integrate the child back into society. Child Offender Phil says "I just need to know how to do it... someone who can show me how to do it, to lift me you know." Also in the Children's Court the proceedings are less formal and the child must understand the nature of the proceedings and can participate and be heard. The Young Offenders Act 1977(NSW) became effective as of the 6th of April 1998. It changed the way the Criminal Justice System deals with young offenders by redirecting young offenders away from the court and Juvenile Justice Centres to different forms of intervention. It provides alternatives to court proceedings via a system of warnings and cautions issued by the NSW Police as well as Youth Justice Conferences. This legislation both covers summary and indictable offences that can be heard immediately. ...read more.

Conclusion

Consequently equality for juveniles can be achieved, as all juveniles are considered to have reduced criminal responsibility due to the fact that they are children and are doli incapax. Equality which is stated in the various legislations on juvenile justice does not occur during the operation of the legislation by law enforcement officials, like police officers however, during the court proceedings. Individual rights must not be violated by the Juvenile Justice System. Victims rights are: to have access to compensation, be informed of suspects arrested, be informed of pleas or charges made, be protected from the accused and informed of hearing dates and roles or witnesses. The accused rights are: to not have DNA taken without consent, no legal search without consent, the right to remain silent, be allowed bail, legal representation, to have recorded interviews, appeal, and be detained if arrested. Therefore these rights achieve justice for all parties involved. Lisa Graham, Marist Youth Care Worker in Sonny's unit says " my experience of working with young people is that the interventions have to continue, they're not one off. It's not do something at 13, do something at 15, you've got to keep going with it and you've got to be accepting the fact that they will make mistakes. Young people make mistakes just like any you person and that we have to able to say well that's, what we learn from... that mistake and how can we keep moving forward so it's a question of getting them to trust new ways." ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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