Friday, January 6, 2012

legal studies

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Year 11 Legal Studies Preliminary Course

Assessment Task No.

Young Offenders Act 17 NSW

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Annaliese Heise

Young Offenders Act 17

Over the past couple of decades juvenile justice within Australia has undergone comprehensive fine-tuning and analysing. A variety of legislations have been passed in order to establish a basis in which delinquent juveniles are punished and to discover a way to deter them from re-offending.

How the legislation provides for young people

The most beneficial legislation passed in order to achieve this objective was the Young Offenders Act 17, which came into force to provide to young offenders a different and more appropriate avenue of police warnings, cautions and youth conferencing as opposed to the traditional criminal justice system of court proceedings.

The act delegates police officers the authority to give juveniles warnings for minor offences, warnings can be given out anywhere and at any time, this does also not require the offenders confession.

Police or specialist youth officers also give out cautions however under more extreme circumstances and do require the offenders confession. In order for a formal caution to be submitted the young offender must have a parent or a guardian over the age of 18 present.

Youth justice conferencing’s objective is to urge offending juveniles to accept the consequences and responsibilities for their actions, it also not only aims at deterring them from re-offending but also establishes community connections, it leaves a feeling of closure to any victims that were involved when the offence took place.

The effectiveness of Legislation from two commentators perfectives.

After discussing the effectiveness of the ‘Young Offenders Act’ in relation to juveniles from my two commentators I was interested by one of the perspectives, I interviewed Constable S. P Robertson at Ryde Police Station and Kristian Heise, who is studying nd year law at UTS, I chose these two individuals as I feel they play a significant part in the legal system and I was interested to see their oppion on th subject.

Constable S. P Robertson had quite an interesting view on the subject stating, “It is a good policy as it frees up the courts, for more serious crimes, and that was the objective, however it is not taken seriously amongst the youths in today’s society. “It’s a bit of a joke and even sometimes an achievement for these offending youths to get warnings, I guess it makes them tough.” Robertson feels there should be a more “suitable form of punishment”. Approximately 68% of offending youths when issued a warning, lie about personal information such as name, address and phone number. These youths love the fact that they can “outsmart” police, “if they’re taking the law as a joke now think of what there going to be like in 10 years.” Robertson feels the youth conferencing is the most beneficial thing out of the “Young Offenders Act” as it enables the youths to see what their doing wrong and who it’s affecting. Robertson suggests that warnings should be substituted for a straight caution, with community service; “a trip to the police station and serving some community service time may be beneficial and prevent them from re-offending.” Robertson went on to comment that this policy has many gaps like with the offenders lying about personal information, and that the law is not protecting those that need protection, as “a slap on the wrist is not going to stop them re-offending.” However Robertson did agree that there is no evidence of gender bias, no specific racial bias, except slightly varied policies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and no apparent age discrimination, expect varied opinions on why should a 17 year old be treated differently to a 18 year old? Robertson personally does not agree that it meets it aims and objective and feels it should be altered so that any offenders are punished to prevent further crimes committed by that offender. However Robertson did state that he acknowledges one of the objectives is to free up the courts and this is maintained by applying the “Young Offenders Act.”

These are some interesting graphs I collected from the police station to give an insight into what crimes youths commit and the percentages of court appearance for each of these crimes

Kristian Heise was my other commentator and he had a very varied opinion stating that this legislation is very effective and does meet the objectives and aims it set. Heise doing nd year law has done some background work on this subject matter and feels that one of the key objectives why it was set was to alleviate the court system of minor offences when it could be dealing with more serious crimes, “The court system can not deal with everyone there is simply not enough time and courts, this is why this legislation was passed and I feel it to be very effective.”

Heise acknowledges there may be some minor gaps in the law like if they’re not properly dealt with as a child it may lead them to do more serious crimes, however it is not appropriate for them to feel the full blow of the court system for committing a petty crime as an adolescent. “Every one in their lives has committed some form of crime, does this mean we should all be dealt with in the “proper way” (the court system). Heise feels the law is protecting those who need to be protected this being the children “offenders”. Heise feels that the other beneficial thing about this legislation “as it not only frees up the courts, but reduces costs as well.” Heise agrees that there is no evidence of gender, racial or age discrimination, and as stated before does meet its aims and objectives by “freeing up the courts, for more serious crimes.”

After interviewing both my commentators I was quite interested by their views and I have now formed a very different view from what I initially thought. I was astounded by the figure “68%” for offending youths lying to police about personal information when issued a warning. I defiantly agree with Robertson on the introducing a milder form of punishment such as community service or all offenders “the more crimes they commit the more community service they get, this would not only hopefully prevent youths from committing crimes but also getting them actively involved in the community in a beneficial, this would not have to be done through the court system either it could take part on every Sunday and offenders show up in their local area monitored by a police officer and do community service all day. I also take into account Heise’s perspective as the courts are already packed and incorporating minor offenders would just restrict it even more. Also its impractical getting youths involved in the court system for committing crimes when they’re young and immature.

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