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The Australian legal system and social media has responded attentively towards young offenders. The effectiveness and result is clearly shown through the community’s response, police officers and government officials that has implemented new strategies for young offenders to be “back on their feet” because the legal system has recognized the incapability of a young person(s) to understand the legal system. The maturity level and inexperience are causes for them to offend the law.
However a person(s) lifestyle and behavior can affect how you treat and respect the laws of the land. One other reason why young offenders are treated differently is due to the protection made by an international organization. This treaty is founded as “Convention on the rights of a child”- also known as CROC. CROC is a set of comprehensive rights given to children under 18years of age. The Australian government ratified the convention in December 1990 but only became binding in 1991- delayed by the extensive process of ratifying the convention in each state of Australia. Therefore explains the one year gap between the years.
A former US researcher from the Institute of mental health has given factual points that a human brain does not finish developing until its late 20’s. The researcher stated “It’s unfair to expect young people to have a fully developed understanding of the law and treat them as adults, when their brains have not yet finish developing into adulthood stage. This researcher has demonstrated that a young person(s) dependency is still sustained with their former parent(s).Thus creating a barrier to give them full responsibility as a young person and an evidential proof that shows why young people must be treated differently- having said young people are still dependent with their former parents shows the lack of incentives to take on the legal system which is not indulged by parents, but it’s a turmoil structural system of the Australian Constitution. A Constitution which is consistent with the law not inconsistent.
Constructed within the constitution is the Young offenders Act 1997, which states in article 55 sbe; penalties imposed on a child for an offence should be no greater than that is imposed on an adult. This act will protect them from receiving the same punishment as adult. It’s legally recognized in all court proceedings especially the criminal justice system. But because it is legally recognized young people take the advantage and at times purposely use this act to be discharged from the serve penalty.
This is why the rate of re-offenders are relatively high- as seen in a research document of re-offenders illustrated by Jessie Holmes which works for the Bureau of Crime Statistic and Research, 40% of the offenders re-offend within one year time. The Criminal Justice System has also seen that young people who offends have a particular characteristics of a lifestyle which is distraught and abrupt, therefore affecting their behavior and leading them to counteract the law. The result is that the Criminal Justice System has provided with programs which enable them to attain reliable resources such as kids help line, young justice centers and community support programs.
Another factor is the Human right and equal opportunities commission Act 1986 applying to all. For young offenders the international treaty which was created by the UN have exempted legislation(s) specifically for young offenders- such as “Convention of the rights of the Child Act 1990” covering all rights and protection for all children around the world. This treaty commenced due to a high number of unprotected children which has “no voice” in other words no right that enable them to freely do what they want and need.
This treaty gives children a voice to speak but because only a few members on the United Nations ratified this convention- it is only a soft law because of a state sovereignty, there are still unprotected children being kept away from their rights. The convention goes as far as the state is willing to take it. An example of this convention being breached is in China- where children are not entitled completely to their rights which is a breach of the international treaty and China is one of the main veto power members that can ultimately do as it pleases therefore the international treaty is not enforceable but just being neglected.
This approach stated through the first of many cases R v Wilcox 15 Aug 1979, where the judge made a remark that “ in case of a youthful offender, considerations of punishment and general deterrence of others may be properly discarded in favor of individualized treatment of the offender, directed to his rehabilitation” This case sets a precedent that strives to protect the child’s right and ensure that the law should recognize children/ young people. Due to this case it has given many recognition towards young people and its incapability to follow the law and be protected by many legal organization that believes there is more to it. Explaining why they are treated differently in our Australian legal system. How young offenders are treated differently are dealt with strategies, policies that enable each and one of the young offender to understand their wrong doings. Police officers and Government officials have other ways of making young offenders to listen, obey, and rehabilitate from where they were before.
A recent activity was made from the police officers as they have relocated their staff members in the Sydney CBD because of the many incident reports. The Governor General has suggested that young offenders should be sent to bush camps instead of being locked up in cells. Which can help them understand why and how it is important to obey the law. They’re trying to find alternatives that will be easier for young offenders to rehabilitate. This approach could or could not be effective because it still comes back to the psychological part of an individual whether they want to accept or learn where they went wrong. This approach has said to been working with the ones whose been re-offending so far. A new activity that the new government has chosen to do is giving young offenders a choice whether to go to a diversionary conference or a court.
The diversionary conference is similar to the one in Canberra where the young offender are put into shame through wearing shirts that exclaims their offence. Canberra’s diversionary conference has enacted and now proceeding through the following areas; Queanbeyann, Yas and South coast township. As an aim to bring peace towards their families and victims. The Australian federal police has been running trials of shaming conferences in ACT since 1992 and these schemes have been established in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland- but still evaluating the options. Commander Ike Ellis who is responsible for the NSW youth said “ the new laws gave police a greater option to deal with young offenders/people more effectively. In saying this new law has been a great opportunity for the Australian government to deal with young offenders/people because it achieves a greater effectiveness towards the young people.
On the other hand the Juvenile Justice Centre has constructed a program for youth drivers. Where road safety gives young drivers rewards for driving safely on the road. This has been funded by the Juvenile Justice Minister Barbara Perry. The program was given $2580. The aim is to prevent young people from road crashes. The result is that 150,000 high school students across Australia have attended the course. They’ve targeted 16-17years old who are starting to drive. It’s given young offenders an opportunity to learn road safety whilst being in custody.
This program is an incentive for young offenders. The effectiveness is that more young people/students are aware of the road safety and this has dropped from 45% to now 29% on traffic offences. All of the objectives and aims from community, police officers and government officials is trying to find alternative from jail. In respect that young people still lack the intellectual mentality that is needed and required by the government and communities. They have seen that the number of young offenders been locked up continue to re-offend comparison to the others where they are been put into programs, which allow them to see their problems. Young offenders will always be treated differently because young people are not fully equipped to handle the responsibility and liabilities.