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Assess the effectiveness of the criminal justice system when dealing with young offenders

The criminal justice system is effective in approaching and dealing with young offenders, however it does have some limitations. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), whilst the Australian national offender rate is only 2%, offenders aged between 10-19, make up 26% of that total offender rate. Due to the large proportion of crime committed by the youth of Australia’s society, the criminal justice system has employed unique policies, which protects the rights and wellbeing of young people (offenders), as well as society’s needs and interests. Furthermore, the system acknowledges a juvenile’s maturity and vulnerability, through its application of the doli incapax principle, when considering aspects such as, sentencing and punishment. The criminal justice system also takes into account the factors influencing juvenile crime, some of which include, peer pressure and socioeconomic status, and as a result, promote the initiation of numerous situational and social crime prevention strategies, to reduce the risk of young people being involved in criminal activity. Essentially, the criminal justice system is effective in dealing with young offenders, due to the way in which the legal system enacts legislation, according to Australia’s obligations to international documents, such as the Convention on the Rights of a Child (CROC), hence protecting the individual rights of young people, even though this may lead to unjust outcomes for victims and society.

 

The Children’s Court of NSW, which includes specialised court procedures and legal personnel, is greatly effective in dealing with young offenders. The court is governed under the Childrens Court Act 1987 (NSW) , which ensures that Children’s courts remain closed, hence prohibiting the general public and media from viewing the proceedings. The closed and discrete nature of the Children’s Court, is beneficial as it protects the identity of the young people. Henceforth, effectively upholding the individual’s rights of children, by reaffirming Australia’s obligations to the Convention on the Rights of a Child (CROC), by ‘taking all appropriate measures to protect the child from all forms of exploitation’, Article 19 (1), and by ‘ensuring that a child’s privacy is fully respected at all stages of proceedings’, Article 40 (2). However, the Children’s Court is limited in regards to its resources and accessibility, considering that there are only seven Children’s courts in Australia. Furthermore, ‘A Study of the Children’s Court of New South Wales’, noted that young people and families ‘are completely left out of the system, which is governing so much of their lives, including timeframes and adjournments’, concluding that ‘they are isolated and oblivious to what is going on in the court system’. Despite, small findings of lacked accessibility within the Children’s Court, it is an appropriate aspect of the judicial arm of government, and is effective in dealing with young offenders.

 

The Children’s Court of NSW, which includes specialised court procedures and legal personnel, is greatly
effective in dealing with young offenders. The court is governed under the Childrens Court Act 1987
(NSW) , which ensures that Children’s courts remain closed, hence prohibiting the general public and
media from viewing the proceedings. The closed and discrete nature of the Children’s Court, is beneficial
as it protects the identity of the young people. Henceforth, effectively upholding the individual’s rights of
children, by reaffirming Australia’s obligations to the Convention on the Rights of a Child (CROC), by
‘taking all appropriate measures to protect the child from all forms of exploitation’, Article 19 (1), and by
‘ensuring that a child’s privacy is fully respected at all stages of proceedings’, Article 40 (2). However,
the Children’s Court is limited in regards to its resources and accessibility, considering that there are only
seven Children’s courts in Australia. Furthermore, ‘A Study of the Children’s Court of New South
Wales’, noted that young people and families ‘are completely left out of the system, which is governing
so much of their lives, including timeframes and adjournments’, concluding that ‘they are isolated and
oblivious to what is going on in the court system’. Despite, small findings of lacked accessibility within
the Children’s Court, it is an appropriate aspect of the judicial arm of government, and is effective in
dealing with young offenders.

 

Youth justice conferences, is an effective alternate method of punishment and rehabilitation, which is
outlined in the Young Offenders Act 1997 (NSW). The conferences, meet society’s needs, and are usually
more appropriate than court hearings, considering that victims are able to express and suggest possible
outcome plans, to achieve justice and retribution, whereas in a court situations, victims are largely
excluded. Such conferences are also beneficial to the young offenders, as it will allow them more
freedom, to take responsibility for their actions, and to actively participate in the rectification of their
offences, and in their own rehabilitation. However, youth justice conferences, are not applicable to a wide
range of offences, and therefore excludes some young offenders from the benefits of conferencing, which
may possibly lead to their detainment, which can be very detrimental to the young person. According to a
report, ‘Restorative justice in Australia’, by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), during
2012-13, 99% of youth justice conferencing participants (victim, offender and representatives) were
satisfied with the outcome of the conference. It was also reported that rates of recidivism were
substantially low, amongst young offenders who had gone through the conference process. Overall, youth
justice conferences, are a de-escalated approach to punishment, and are effective in dealing with young
offenders and in achieving retribution and rehabilitation for society.

 

Justice Juvenile Centres (JJC’s), are effective in dealing with young offenders who have been sentenced
to detention. JJC’s meet society’s needs and achieve justice, by observing correctional procedures over
the young offenders, hence implementing deterrence and retribution. Additionally, JJC’s are effective in
prioritising the security of young persons and upholding their individual rights, as the segregation of the
youth, from convicted adults, correlates with Article 10 of the International Convention on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR), which states that ‘accused/convicted juvenile persons shall be speedily
separated from accused/convicted adults’, to which Australia is a signatory. Furthermore, according to an
article, ‘What life’s really like in juvenile detention’, published by News Online, in May 2015, direct
quotes from a 16 year old offender, Justin, held in juvenile detention, ensured that the centre provided
many “opportunities, including HSC and TAFE courses”. The prevalence of educational, health and
spiritual services in JJC’s is imperative, considering that they alleviate pressures and deterrents, which
would otherwise negatively impact the wellbeing and rehabilitation, of young people, whilst in detention.
Hence, such services effectively uphold the individual rights of young people, as they correspond with
Australia’s obligations under Article 6 (2) of CRC to ‘ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival
and development of the child’. However, juvenile detention does, to some extent, infringe upon the rights
and freedoms of young people, however to no avail, as an article, ‘Jail does not deter young offenders’,
published by The Australia, highlights that “there no significant difference between juveniles given a
custodial penalty and those given a non-custodial penalty in the likelihood of reconviction,”. Which
indicates, that rather than incarceration, non-custodial sentences and youth justice conferences should be
explored and invested into, for a larger amount of young offenders. Moreover, JJC’s are effective in
dealing with young offenders, as they are the most enforceable form of punishment, and
facilitate/encourage growth and rehabilitation.

 

In conjunction, the criminal justice system is effective in dealing with young offenders. As the system applies specifically orchestrated mechanisms, legislation and services, to the cases of young offenders. In regards to the limitations of the criminal justice system, increased efficiency of the Children’s Court and increased resources of rehabilitation, would be advantageous in increasing accessibility and lower the rates of youth offences and recidivism. Conclusively, however, the procedures and processes of the criminal justice system are effective, in recognising the individual rights and freedoms of young people, whilst also achieving justice, and balancing the needs of society.

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