Control And Prevent Juvenile Crime In Australia Criminology Essay

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The massive cost of the criminal justice system has triggered the quest for new or alternative practices concerning crime and its control. There has been significant change in the 'institutional architecture' of criminal justice and penal systems (Luke, 2002).

According to Crawford, the youth are among the leading law offenders (2003). Unless the youth are prevented against committing a crime, youth offenders are bound to be at all times high. To effectively manage this situation, the youth justice conferencing and youth conduct orders have been applied to prevent a young person from committing more crimes.

The young offenders Act 1997 (NSW) deals with young people who break the law. One of the options listed to deal with youth offenders is Youth Justice Conferencing. Youth justice conferencing falls under restorative justice. A youth justice conference is identified as where the young offender with his or her family, is brought face-to-face with the victim, and the victim's support group, to hear about the harm caused and to take responsibility for their actions. At the conference a suitable outcome is determined and it can include apology, reasonable compensation to the victim and subsequent steps to link the young offender back into the community.

Youth conduct orders (YCOs) use multi-agency approach to address the root cause of anti-social behavior exhibited by young persons who have been charged with certain offences. The program aims to address the underlying causes of anti-social behavior by directing the young people to participate in intensive early intervention programs based on coordinated case management from human services and justice agencies.

YCOs

Youth Conferences

Age requirements

The young person must be 14 years old or older, but less than 18 years old; at the time the offence was committed. The young person must also be less than 19 years old at the time it is first proposed to make the YCO.

The young person must be 10 years old but less than 18 years old.

What types of offences are Covered?

Offences covered by the Young Offenders Act 1997 (YOA), where it is not appropriate to deal with the offence under that Act ("relevant offence").

offence covered by the young offenders act 1997(NSW)

How is a young person

Referred to each scheme?

A young person may be referred by the police or by the court.

The young person can apply to be referred to the scheme, or can be referred independently by the court.

-Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions

-The Court

-Specialist Youth Officers from NSW Police

Geographical requirements

The young person must temporarily

or permanently reside in, or habitually visit, the areas within the Campbell town, Mount Druitt or New England Local Area

Commands.

The scheme is applicable throughout NSW

Does the young person have to consent?

The consent of a young person to the making of a YCO is required unless the young person has pleaded guilty to, or been found guilty of, the offence

the young offender has admitted to the offence

and agreed to participate

What happens to the original proceedings when in effect?

In effect, there is a temporary stay on the proceedings until the YCO is completed or revoked.

A youth conference can be held at any stage of the proceedings

Who prepares and administers each?

YCOs will be prepared and administered by the Coordination Group. It will be made up by persons from at least the following

government departments: NSW Police Force, Juvenile Justice, DOCS,

Education and Training and Health. Other government departments may also be involved.

-Specialist Youth Officers from NSW Police

-Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions

-The Court

Methodology

The study seeks to explore effectiveness of the restorative justice system as an alternative to court process.

This study looks at the patterns of young people referred conferences in NSW during the period 2009-10 of operation of the Young Offenders Act and compares these data with young people who went to court during the same period.

The data used in this study comes from two databases maintained by the NSW Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).

Findings

YCOs are sometimes preferred to youth conferences incase of the following circumstances:

Incase of an alleged offence; and

the child's criminal history, any previous cautions administered to the child for an offence and, if the child has been in any other way dealt with for an offence under any Act, the other dealings.

The following are the major consequences of effecting youth conduct orders:

Teenagers are forced to obey night-time curfew, bans from seeing certain friends and to attend school under a radical new youth policing program.

If a juvenile on a Youth Conduct Order steps out of line, they risk being sent straight back to court to face the full force of the law. Under the scheme, if a juvenile breaches a Conduct Order, they can be imprisoned.

Crawford's (2003) study found that justice conferencing is effective in the following ways:

Helps young offenders take steps towards directly repairing the harm they have caused to victims.

A conference provides a forum where the young offender must acknowledge and accept responsibility for the results of their actions

A conference returns decision-making power to families of the young offender and identifies support mechanisms for the young person to prevent future offending

A conference recognizes and gives importance to victims as well as involving them in decisions relating to offences against them.

Below is the data on youth crime levels and subsequent actions obtained from the databases maintained by the NSW Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ):

Table 1 below shows the breakdown of data for youth conferencing for 2009-10.

Referrals to a youth justice conference

Total 2086

Police 976

Courts 1110

Referrals resulting in a conference

Number of referrals resulting in a

Youth Justice Conference 1907

Conferences facilitated 1698

Table 2 shows the data of the daily averages of youth offenders in custody

Average daily number of young people in custody 434

Average daily number of young women in custody 30

Average daily number of young people of Aboriginal and/or Torres

Strait Islander background 204

Average daily number of young people serving custodial sentences 226

Average daily number of young people remanded in custody awaiting the finalization of court proceedings 208

During 2009-10 there was a 14% increase in the number of youth justice conferences facilitated compared to 2008-9. There was an 11% increase in community orders completed.

Conclusion

Youth Justice Conferences are based on the idea that when a young person offends, they cause hurt, loss or damage to members of the community. The conference option, unlike warnings, cautions or court, helps young offenders take steps towards directly repairing the harm they have caused to victims.

From the study the data shows that youth conferences are more successful in dealing with youth crime. Youth conduct orders are more punishing than rehabilitating.

Youth conferences provide an opportunity for a youth offender to regret his actions which in many cases may have caused noticeable harm.

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