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“Re-forming Juvenile Justice: The New Zealand Experiment.”

Morris, Allison
June 4, 2015

Source: (1997) Prison Journal. 77(2):125-134.

The reforms emphasized the involvement of juvenile offenders, families, and victims in deciding how best to handle each situation. The family group conference replaced or supplemented the Youth Court as the main decision-making forum in most of the more serious cases. Research has revealed that this approach has been relatively successful overall. Few juvenile offenders now appear in courts, few of these receive any type of court order, and even fewer receive any kind of residential or custodial order. About 85 percent of the youths who took part in family group conferences agreed to carry out active penalties such as community service, restitution, and similar actions. The inclusion of apologies in the statistics raised the percentage to 95 percent. Parents were generally actively involved in family group conferences, although the youths were less engaged in the decision-making process. The majority of victims who were involved in family group conferences had positive attitudes toward them. Finally, many of the concerns raised by commentators are not supported by the research. However, the need for adequate funding is a concern.


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