Sunday, August 22, 2004

Teenagers to face trial by teenage judges, jurors, prosecutors and defence lawyers.

This appears to be the government's latest wheeze to tackle crime:

Children as young as 14 will train to serve as judge and jury in trials of their peers, under government plans to cut inner city crime.

The initiative, an attempt to encourage young people to respect the judicial system, has the support of senior ministers but has alarmed some legal experts.

The Department of Constitutional Affairs could introduce the radical scheme next year, when it pilots a groundbreaking project in Liverpool that hopes to repeat the success of initiatives in the US.

Depending on the results of the two-year trial, the government intends to roll the scheme out across Britain.

Apparently, similar schemes have been adopted in the US, New Zealand, Japan and Canada:

Under the teen court scheme, which is being adopted by New Zealand, Canada and Japan, teenagers aged 14 to 17 study a number of disciplines including law and social sciences, to ensure they make fair judgments and recommend appropriate sentencing.

The courts will only be used for petty offences such as vandalism, drug taking or underage drinking and the penalties imposed will be limited to community service, writing letters of apology or attending anger management workshops.

I guess this is one way to reduce the burden on adult judges, prosecutors and jurors...

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