When is a child not a child

Hutchinson, Terry C. (2006) When is a child not a child. Criminal Law Journal, 30(2), pp. 92-99.

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If you are 17 years old in Queensland you are treated as an adult by the criminal justice system. Queensland is now the only state in Australia where this happens. In the Second Reading speech of the new Juvenile Justice Act 1992, the then Queensland Minister for Family Services and Aboriginal and Islander Affairs Mrs Anne Warner stated:

'It is the intention of this Government ... to deal with 17-year-old children within the juvenile, rather than the adult, justice system, as per the 1988 Kennedy report into prisons. This is consistent with the age of majority and avoids such children being exposed to the effects of adults in prisons, thereby increasing their chances of remaining in the system and becoming recidivists. This change will occur at an appropriate time in the future.'

Thirteen years later this has not happened. There has been no regulation enacted pursuant to section 6 of the Juvenile Justices Act 1992, and Queensland is now the only state in Australia where 17 year olds are treated as adults by the criminal justice system.

This paper documents the rule in Queensland and its history as reflected in government inquiries dating back to 1988. It examines the international human rights conventions under The United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child and welfare principles endorsed in the Juvenile Justice Act 1992. Support for change is widespread and public statements from various quarters strengthen the case for change. What are the contrary arguments? Or is this simply a case of the less powerful in our society being overlooked?

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ID Code: 9038
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: No
Keywords: juvenile justice queensland sentencing
ISSN: 0314-1160
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Criminal Law and Procedure (180110)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Law and Justice Research Centre
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 Thomson Legal & Regulatory
Copyright Statement: This article was published in the (2006) volume 30(2) Criminal Law Journal. Reproduced with permission.
Any commercial use of this article or any copy or material portion of the article is striclty prohibited. For commercial use, permission can be obtained from the Lawbook Co, Thomson Legal & Regulatory Limited.
Deposited On: 17 Aug 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:18

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