Crime - young offenders

Powerful Essays
Topics: Crime
Unit of Study: Crime

Task: Assess the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in dealing with young offenders
Eliza Ross

Introduction

It is widely acknowledged in Australia and around the world that young people under the age of 18 should be subject to a system of criminal justice that is separate from the adult system. This is because young people often have lower levels of maturity, as well as knowledge when it comes to the law. Although morals and ethics form an important part of school education (helping young people to make sensible decisions), most aspects of the law do not become clear until they reach adulthood. In NSW young people are legally separated from adults when it comes to rights such as questioning, identification, forensic procedures, having the right to a support person and automatic legal aid. Young people also have a separate court to deal with their and separate legislation offences. The effectiveness of these judicial and legislative provisions inevitably has mixed results. This merits an ongoing monitoring and review process that aims to identify the legal issues faced by young offenders within the criminal justice system, and support and protect young people in the legal system.

Issue: Maturity and Knowledge of the Law

Although it is recognised that young people do commit crimes, they are not often serious crimes. Legal issues faced by young people are often summary crimes such as drug offenses and petty theft, and these are dealt with in the Children’s Court. These types of crimes are considered less serious and often have alternatives to court such as warnings and cautions, especially for first time offenders, which is often the case for young people. Conversely, very serious offences such as homicide and sexual offences are very rarely perpetrated by juveniles. The Young Offenders Act 1997 recognises the potential lack of experience and maturity that young people have in relation to the law.

Although the law

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