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Embedding diversion and limiting the use of bail in NSW: A consideration of the issues related to achieving and embedding diversion into juvenile justice practices.

Bargen, Jenny
June 4, 2015

Source: (2010) Current Issues in Criminal Justice. 21(3): 467-479.

Numerous studies on juvenile justice (see eg Cunneen and White, 2007) have highlighted
problems in the varied responses in Australian jurisdictions to young people in trouble with
the law. The most pressing problem, identified in a multitude of reports over the last twenty
years (eg, Gale et al 1990; ALRC/HR-EOC, 1997; HREOC, Bringing Them Home 1997), is
the continuing and increasing over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people
in juvenile justice institutions (AIC 2009).
The primary focus in this comment is on another closely related (Cunneen 2008:47-9)
set of issues – the increase in the number of children and young people held in custody on
remand and in the length of time spent on remand. Cunneen has argued that changes to bail
and other legislation in NSW have meant that ‘a growing number of Indigenous young
people [are being] held in custodial detention as a result of being denied or unable to meet
bail … [This] is easily as significant an issue as the actual sentencing of Indigenous young
people to detention after trial’ (Cunneen 2008:49).
The increase in remand numbers has been identified as the most significant driver of
the increase in the overall number of children and young people in custody. In late 2009, the
community sector in NSW released two reports which made recommendations designed to
stem this flow. This comment canvasses and critiques these two reports, presents a different
analysis of the underlying reasons for the increases, and proposes other changes that could
be introduced in addition to those recommended in these reports. (Introduction).


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