The purpose of the Juvenile Justice Act 1992 is to establish a code for dealing with youth offenders under the age of 17. The Act regulates the courts dealings with children who come in contact with the youth justice system. This includes police response, diversionary options of rehabilitation against detention, multiple sentencing options, operation of detention centres and recognition of family and community with particular reference to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities. A review of the former Juvenile Justice Act 1992 commenced in May 2007. This review was an assessment of legislation to ensure it is providing the best practice youth justice system that has the capacity to adequately respond to demands and challenges of today’s society.
A paper on Crime and Criminal Justice discusses findings of a project that focused on the repeated relapsing of young offenders into criminal or delinquent behaviour. One of the key points raised was that “assignment of severe punishments for early criminal behaviour can result in greater recidivism,” (Lynch, 2003) A notable study by Cain (1996) in New South Wales, for example, involved the tracking of 5000 children over a nine-year period. The research, which focused on juveniles who were processed by the Children’s Court during this period, found a strong relationship existed between 'sterner punishments and higher levels of re-offending.' Similarly, Kraus and Smith (1978) concluded that even a relatively short term in custody on remand was found to significantly increase subsequent offending (64.3 per cent) in comparison to being placed on remand at home (36.6 per cent). Trotter (1995) pointed out that more serious orders can influence the tendency to re-offend through a process of criminal socialisation, and that community service orders and other structured programs that bring offenders together can actually serve to magnify the very deviance that such responses to offending are intended to reduce.
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