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NCJ Number
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology Volume: 26 Issue: 1 Dated: (March 1993) Pages: 72-90
A Morris; G M Maxwell
Date Published
19 pages
This study describes the juvenile justice system established in New Zealand under the 1989 Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act.
The law specifies objectives and principles emphasizing several innovations, including the integration of a western and an indigenous approach, the empowerment of families and young people, victim involvement, and decisionmaking by group consensus. The main mechanism for achieving these objectives is the family group conference, which replaces or supplements the juvenile court as the main decisionmaking forum in most of the more serious cases. Police involvement in decisionmaking is also increased by means of a greater emphasis on diversion and by the police role in reaching agreements in the family group conference. Research regarding the law indicate that it has succeeded in diverting the majority of juvenile offenders from the courts and reduced the reliance on the use of institutions. Families are taking part in the decisionmaking processes and are usually taking responsibility for their children. Extended families are also becoming involved as alternatives to foster care and institutions. However, some problems exist, including professionals taking over and thereby both distorting and destroying the family group conference process, families being denied necessary information on the process and the possibilities, and a lack of resources and support services. Nevertheless, it is too early to determine the overall effectiveness of the new system. Figure, note, and 21 reference (Author abstract modified)