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Criminal Law: Report on Juvenile Justice

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Criminal Law: Extended Research Response
Report on Juvenile Justice
Hayley Scuderi. 2017

Table of Contents

Introduction:        3

Knowledge and Understanding:        3

Sentencing Laws:        3

Queensland Juvenile Justice Legislation in Comparison to New South Wales Juvenile Justice Legislation:        4

Comparison of Queensland Juvenile Justice in Comparison to North Carolina’s Juvenile Justice Legislation:        4

Stakeholders:        5

Evaluation:        5

Recommendations 1:        6

Recommendations 2:        7

Conclusion:        7


In Australia, one third of all crimes are committed by juveniles, with around 60% of such crimes occurring in Queensland alone. (ABS, 2014) These figures presented from the Queensland Bureau of Statistics are startling, but what should be of particular concern is the rate at which recidivism occurs among young offenders.  Juvenile Justice is an area of state law, separating the criminal misconduct of children from adults. The current legislation that represents juvenile crime in Queensland is the Youth Justice act, implemented in 1992. Further evaluation of this act could prove the inefficiency of the laws surrounding juvenile justice and therefor additional development of the act could see an improvement to juvenile crime rate in Queensland.

Knowledge and Understanding:
The juvenile justice system was first established in the year of 1899, a period of time known as the “progressive era” were large waves of immigrants were brought into the US. Due to the outsized amount of adolescence left homeless, juvenile crime rates were increasing. Essentially, it was in the best interest of the legal system that juvenile justice legislation was created. However, it wasn’t until 1992 that Australia segregated youth from adult criminal activity. It was at this time the Youth Justice Act 1992 (QLD), pertinent to children between the ages of fourteen and seventeen was implemented. This act was later amended in 2003.  

Within the Youth Justice Act 2003 (QLD) it states that the aim of the legislation is to “(A) establish the basis for the administration of juvenile justice; (b) to establish a code for dealing with children who have, or are alleged to have, committed offences; and (c) to provide for the jurisdiction and proceedings of courts dealing with children”

Sentencing Laws:
Research over recent years has shown that all motives behind juvenile crime has somewhat relation to a negative social environment. It is believed that for many juveniles, a life of crime is a means of survival. In an attempt to correct this behavior, the juvenile justice system implements punishments for crime surrounding the teaching of life and trade skills. This is in an effort to encourage delinquents to deliver a stronger contribution to society. There are many different forms of punishment inflicted upon juveniles facing the court system. Each penalty is utilized, in an attempt to rehabilitate troubled minds and prevent second offenders. The sentence perpetrated upon the criminal varies, depending upon the severity of the crime committed.

The first punishment is known as a conference, implemented when the defendant has exceeded the maximum number of cautions. This conference allows the young offender to come face-to-face with their victim, as he/she learns of the effects of the crime they have committed. The application of a conference allows victim to feels a sense of retribution as they have the opportunity to choose the fate of the accused. For any juvenile facing charges of an eligible drug offence, such as possession, the offender could be required to visit educational sessions with professionals in order to discuss their drug addiction. The application of drug assessment and educational sessions, as a form of rehabilitation, is applied to alter the defendant’s behavior and prevent the reoccurring of criminal activity. If sentenced with good behavior the defendant must strictly abide the law for an official period of time, depicted during a sentencing trial. Good behavior creates specific deterrence as the possibility of receiving a more severe punishment is instilled upon the defendant.  A young offender, facing the court, may also be penalized with a fine. The application of restitution is applied by punishing the defendant financially in an attempt to deter further crime. Sentencing juveniles to the imprisonment in a detention center is the final form of punishment instilled in Queensland. This form of punishment holds youth in supervised, penalized environment, where they are required to live out their sentence time.

Queensland Juvenile Justice Legislation in Comparison to New South Wales Juvenile Justice Legislation:
Both the Youth Justice Act 2003 (QLD) and the Children Criminal Proceedings act 1987 (NSW) greatly converge with each other, showing greater comparisons than there are differences. However, the greatest divergent between the two acts is the current juvenile age scope imbedded within the legislations. In New South Wales, offenders are charged as juveniles from the ages 14 to 17. New South Wales resident and mayor of the Wentworth Shire Council adheres to the current age scope, proving to be satisfactory in the deterrence of criminal activity. (Jacobson G, 2012). Within Queensland, however, 17 year olds are charged within district court proceedings and convicted under the same guideline as adults.

Through further analysis of both the Queensland and New South Wales’s juvenile justice legislations, it becomes evident that the Children Criminal Proceedings act 1987 (NSW) is superior to the Youth Justice Act 2003 (QLD). It could be inferred that Queensland having the highest susceptibility to juvenile crime among all other states in Australia, including New South Wales, is due to the decreased juvenile age scope of criminal responsibility. It could be argued that altering the Queensland age scope to match the current Juvenile Justice age gap held in New South Wales could decrease the rate of criminal activity among juveniles. Lawyer and CEO of prisoner advocacy group, sister inside, Debbie Kilroy, would agree with this notion, stating, “A 17 year old is still a child, no matter what they have done.” (Kilroy D, 2016) It could be asserted that young offenders, currently experiencing the Queensland justice system will also adhere to Kilroy’s beliefs. Further justification into the benefits of increasing the juvenile age scope, would prove the current legislation upheld in New South Wales is more effective than the Youth Justice Act 2003 (QLD).  



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