The contemporary juvenile justice system faces the challenge of balancing rehabilitation for developing adolescents, as well as providing deterrence and ensuring public safety in the face of crimes committed by young people. However, there are provisions for the older adolescent offenders to be prosecuted in the adult court, as well as those adolescents who commit serious offences. Some scholars are concerned that these transfers to adult courts do not adequately consider the developmental needs of the adolescent offenders, hence depriving them of the protective mechanisms and rehabilitative possibilities provided by the juvenile justice system. This paper will examine whether the relevant Victorian legislation and legal practices are consistent with the available science; in particular, the paper will consider the assumptions that sentencing laws make about adolescent offenders in the context of the existing literature on adolescent development and treatment amenability. In line with the empirical evidence, changes are suggested to current practices for juvenile transfer cases, and further collaborations between legal, research, and mental health agencies are clearly needed to enhance the state of science and practice in this area. The implications of these suggestions and the roles of the mental health professionals are also discussed.
Chu, C. M., & Ogloff, J. R. (2012). Sentencing of adolescent offenders in Victoria: a review of empirical evidence and practice. Psychiatry Psychology and Law, 19(3), 325 - 344. https://doi.org/10.1080/13218719.2011.565716