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“The Young Offenders Act 1997: Is the Diversionary Scheme Being Diverted?”

Bargen, Jenny
June 4, 2015

Source: (2000) Judicial Officers’ Bulletin. 12(3):17-20.

The law referenced in the article’s title took effect on April 6, 1998. The law is the outcome of careful consideration of lessons learned from juvenile diversion programs in Australia and elsewhere in the 1980’s and 1990’s. These programs include the family group conferences in New Zealand, the Wagga Wagga model of extended police cautioning, and programs of police cautions and family and community conferences in Australian jurisdictions. The law provides for the establishment of a Youth Justice Advisory Committee to monitor and evaluate the law and advise the Attorney General and the Director General of Juvenile Justice. The law covers all summary offenses and certain other offenses. It specifies an integrated, hierarchical system of diversionary options, including police warnings and cautions and a statutory system of Youth Justice Conferences. The law specifies its principles and purposes. It also includes a series of checks and balances designed to ensure that youth are diverted from court proceedings in all relevant matters. Full compliance by police will mean that courts will handle the more serious offenses, as well as children who enter a plea of not guilty, and children who choose to have a court handle their matter. Achieving the law’s objectives will require continuing work and a significant role of judicial officers in cooperation with police, attorneys, conference administrators, and convenors. 41 references.


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