Wednesday, December 07, 2016

A long-overdue change

The government has finally done the right thing and put 17 year olds accused of crime in the youth justice system where they belong:

The youth justice age has been raised to 18, ensuring offenders 17 and under will be dealt with in the youth court, away from more hardened criminals dealt with in District Courts.

But the extension only applies to lower risk 17-year-olds who would face the Youth Court system if they committed a crime. Certain violent crimes like murder, rape, aggravated assault, would earn automatic inclusion in the adult court system.


The changes, which will take place by 2019, will ensure that all 17-year-old offenders are dealt with according to which jurisdiction is best suited to the particular case, they said.

This is something that should have been done years ago. We've been repeatedly reminded by the UN that our policy of prosecuting children as adults violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and this brings us into greater compliance with international law. But its also a good pragmatic move - because the youth court actually works at turning people away from crime. Whereas throwing kids straight into the adult criminal justice system usually means that they stay there for life. Which means that we'll see less crime as a result of this move, and fewer lives ruined.