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Diversion From Youth Courts in Five Asia Pacific Jurisdictions: Welfare or Restorative Solutions

NCJ Number
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology Volume: 50 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2006 Pages: 5-20
T. Wing Lo Ph.D.; Gabrielle M. Maxwell Ph.D.; Dennis S.W. Wong Ph.D.
Date Published
February 2006
16 pages
This article examines how juvenile offenders are diverted from prosecution in juvenile courts in five Asia Pacific jurisdictions: Queensland, Australia; New Zealand; Hong Kong; Singapore; and China.
In all of these jurisdictions, there has been a trend away from punitive and retributive approaches to the diversion of juvenile offenders from prosecution in a court to the community-based welfare model and the restorative model. The community-based welfare model relies primarily on counseling, community support, and educational assistance and is usually led by professionals. This model tends to categorize juvenile offenders as having problem behaviors and emotional conditions that require treatment and supervision. The restorative model emphasizes the accountability of juvenile offenders for the harms their behavior caused and uses negotiation among the youth, their victims, and the youth's family to develop measures for repairing the harm done and addressing the youth's behaviors that caused the harm. This model limits the involvement of professionals in decisionmaking about the disposition of the case. New Zealand and Queensland use the restorative model. Criticisms of this model have included the lack of due process and protections for the rights of offenders, as well as the potential for undue influence by the police. Hong Kong and Singapore have adopted a traditional rehabilitation and welfare orientation whereby police divert juveniles from the courts through police cautions and referrals to community support and guidance services operated by social workers. In China, community-based practices such as police cautions, mediation, and educational assistance are used in diverting youth from court-based processing. Community-based sanctions are particularly susceptible to the influence of personal power and persuasion, and outcomes may favor those who have close affiliations with or hold powerful positions in the government. 8 notes and 56 references