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Youth Justice in New Zealand: A Restorative Justice Approach to Reduce Youth Offending (From UNAFEI: Annual Report for 2007 and Resource Material Series No. 75, P 55-80, 2008, Grace Lord, ed. See NCJ-229038)

NCJ Number
Stephen J. O'Driscoll
Date Published
August 2008
26 pages
This paper on youth justice in New Zealand focuses on a restorative justice approach for reducing youth offending.
In New Zealand, the primary legislation that governs youth justice in the district court is the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 (CYPF Act). It establishes the procedures that govern state intervention in the lives of children, youth, and their families. This legislation established the family court, which deals with the care and protection of children and youth, and the Youth Court. which addresses youth offending. The CYPF Act provides for an innovative system of youth justice that consists of a hybrid justice/welfare system in which youth, their families, victims, the community, and the state are involved in taking responsibility for offending and its consequences. Under such a system, the rights and needs of indigenous people are taken into account; families are central in all decisionmaking that involves their children; youth have a say in how their offending is to be addressed; victims have a role in negotiating penalties; and group consensus is the model for decisionmaking. These policies are encompassed in police and court procedures and practice as well as through the introduction of the Family Group Conference (FGC). The FGC is a decisionmaking forum that enables offenders, victims, families, community, and justice professionals to recommend an appropriate penalty to the court. In most cases, youth court judges, who are not present at FGCs, accept the FGC's recommendations. FGCs reflect the principles of restorative justice, although this model is not mentioned in the CYPF Act. The restorative justice model emphasizes diversion from formal criminal justice processing and the determination of offender accountability based on informal consensus of all the involved parties regarding how harms to the victim and community can be remedied or mitigated by the offender. 62 notes and appended charts of the youth court/youth justice system