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Challenges to Juvenile Treatment in New Zealand

Phillips, Pamela
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) In,UNAFEI Annual Report for 2000 and Resource Material Series No. 59. Tokyo: United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders. Pp. 99-105.

This document examines the success of the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989, in New Zealand. This legislation introduced new principles and procedures for dealing with young people that had committed offenses, and provided for jurisdictional separation between children and young people in need of care and protection and those that had committed offenses. The legislation moved practice from a ‘welfare’ approach to young people that had offended towards a ‘justice’ approach. The legislation was shaped by a number of issues emerging at the time. These issues included a growing dissatisfaction among practitioners, rejection of paternalism of the state and its agents, the lack of impact on levels of offending, and due process for young people. The features of the law are its principles of special protection to young people in relation to the commission of an offense; the age of criminal responsibility; limitations on arrest and procedural safeguards during investigations; a new diversion process and the Family Group conference; Youth Court; and court orders. As a result of this legislation, there have been tremendous successes in reducing the numbers of young people in residential care and appearing before the courts. For the first time, victims have been involved in decisionmaking in relation to the offense committed against them. Recently, the body of research on risk and protection factors and interventions known to work with young offenders has been growing. The Department of Child, Youth and Family Services has recently been involved in the goal of reducing the recidivist rate of high-risk offenders. It is hoped that this strategy shows a similar success to the introduction of the act. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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