Misspent Youth - Opportunities for Juvenile Justice

Misspent Youth - Opportunities for
Juvenile Justice
Address by
The Hon Wayne Martin
Chief Justice of Western Australia
26 AUGUST 2010
The vast majority of kids are good
According to the Auditor General in the 5 years to 30
June 2007:
• Just over 1,000 young people had more than 10
formal contacts with police.
• This was out of a total population of 225,000 young
people (10-17 years) in WA (i.e. 0.5%).
• 80% of young people had no formal contact whatever
with police.
• Of those who do have contact the significant majority
(80%) had 1 or 2 formal contacts with police.
The vast majority of Aboriginal
kids are good
• Over those five years, only about 800
of a total population of 11,000
Aboriginal young people in WA (7%)
had more than 10 formal contacts
with police.
Young people in detention
In the year to 30 June 2008:
• On average there were 164 young people in custody in
• This was the second highest rate of detention in
• However there were 235,000 young people between 10
and 17 in WA in that year.
• Less than 1,000 young people were in custody over the
Persistent young offenders
• Over 5 years about 1,000 young people in
WA had more than 10 formal contacts with
• Of those, only 120 young people had 25 or
more contacts with police.
Children as victims
• In most jurisdictions about 20% of alleged
juvenile offenders' contact with police stemmed
from alleged offences against the person.
• However, a majority of juvenile victims were the
victims of such offences.
• While our children do commit offences against
the person, they are more likely to be the victims
of offences against the person committed by
Young offenders in WA
• Gender: Of those cautioned, 64% were male, of those
referred to a juvenile justice team, 74% were male, and
of those arrested, about 80% were male.
• Age: Amongst juveniles arrested in WA, 25% were
aged between 10 and 14, and the remaining 75% were
aged between 15 and 17.
• Region: About 40% of the arrest and summons of
juveniles took place in the South Eastern (Kalgoorlie),
Central (Geraldton), Pilbara and Kimberley regions.
Almost 20% of juveniles arrested and summonsed in WA
were Aboriginal young people from these four regions.
Offence type
Of juveniles arrested in WA:
• 41% were arrested in relation to offences
against property;
• 33% were arrested in relation to offences
against the person; and
• 26% were arrested in relation to "other"
NB. These figures relate to arrests and exclude police contacts with
young people resulting in the issue of a summons.
Indigenous over-representation
• The Auditor General has estimated that
about 75% of the persistent group of
offenders who are responsible for most
government effort within the juvenile
justice system are Aboriginal, and a
significant number of those are resident in
regional Western Australia.
Aboriginal young offenders
• Aboriginal children comprised 29% of
those cautioned by police, 33% of those
referred to juvenile justice teams, and 50%
of those arrested.
• These percentages are to be compared to
the fact that Aboriginal juveniles
comprised only about 5% of the total
population of juveniles during the relevant
Offences by Aboriginal young
Aboriginal juveniles comprised:
• 50% of young people arrested in relation to assault;
• 58% of young people arrested in relation to sexual assault;
• 59% of young people arrested in relation to robbery;
• 66% of young people arrested for burglary;
• 61% of young people arrested in relation to motor vehicle theft;
• 39% of young people arrested in relation to receiving/handling
proceeds of crime;
• 19% of young people arrested in relation to fraud;
• 32% of young people arrested in relation to property damage;
• 45% of young people arrested in relation to disorderly conduct.
Outcomes for young Aboriginal
• For males, 82% of Aboriginal juveniles were found guilty (after trial
or on a plea), compared to 76% of non-Aboriginal males.
• For females, the relevant proportions were 79% for Aboriginal, and
66% for non-Aboriginal females.
• 22% of the Aboriginal juveniles dealt with were given custodial
penalties, as compared to 9% of non-Aboriginal juveniles.
• Non-Aboriginal juveniles were more likely to receive a fine (35%)
than Aboriginal juveniles (15%).
• Within the offence of assault, 26% of Aboriginal juveniles sentenced
received a custodial penalty, compared to 17% of non-Aboriginal
• For the offence of burglary, 31% of Aboriginal juveniles received a
custodial penalty, compared to 18% of non-Aboriginal juveniles.
Criminal justice supervision –
Aboriginal young people
• During 2007-08, about 65% of the 2,000
young people under criminal justice
supervision in WA were Aboriginal.
• Again, this was out of a juvenile population
of around 235,000 (0.85%).
• The rate of supervision of Aboriginal young
people in WA was almost double the
national average.
Juvenile custody –
Aboriginal young people
• This month Aboriginal children represent about
65% of those in custody on remand (52 out of
80, made up by 43 males and 9 females), and
about 68% of the sentenced population (56 out
of 82, made up by 55 males and 1 female).
• The disproportionate representation of
Aboriginal juveniles within the juvenile justice
system, is greater than the disproportionate
representation of Aboriginal people within the
adult criminal justice system.
Juvenile detention
• WA has the second highest rate of
juvenile detention per head of juvenile
population in Australia.
• Although the NT has a higher rate of
juvenile detention per head of
population generally, its rate of
detention per head of Aboriginal juvenile
population is significantly lower (less
than half) that of WA.
Detention – longer term trends
• The rate of juvenile detention per head of
population has, generally speaking, declined in
WA over the last 30 years, with the rate in
2007 being about 30% lower than the rate in
• There are, however, peaks and troughs. For
example, in August 2005, there were only 91
juveniles in custody, made up of 37 on remand
and 54 sentenced, whereas in May 2010, the
number peaked at 220, made up of 120 on
remand and 100 sentenced.
Forward estimates
In May 2010, the Department of Corrective
Services revised its estimates upwards for
coming years:
• For example, from 199 juveniles in custody to
256 for 2020.
• The revisions made by the Department in
respect of those juveniles subject to
community-based supervision have not been
as significant; for example, from 921 to 1,087
for 2020.
Supervised bail
• In August 2010, there were 65 young
people on supervised bail in WA
whereas in 2002 there were less than
The effectiveness of detention
In 2004, the Australian Institute of Criminology
released a report which addressed reoffending
studies amongst juvenile offenders around the
world. That report noted that:
• in North America the recidivism rate for young
people leaving custody had been reported to
be as high as 96%; and
• in another study, 88% of British males
between 14 and 16 years reoffended within
2 years of release from custody.
Recidivism rates - WA
• For male juveniles, of those who exited custody over the 10
years ending 30 June 2008, 75.45% had returned to custody
before early May 2009.
• For male Aboriginal juveniles, the figure was almost 80%.
• For female Aboriginal juveniles, the figure was a little lower, at
• No data was provided for female juveniles generally.
• Taking a shorter term view of return to custody, namely, return to
custody within 2 years of release, the quarterly figures produced
during 2009 varied between 46% and 61%.
• So, about half of those released from juvenile detention returned
to custody within 2 years, and if a longer term view is taken, the
percentage returning to custody is significantly higher, being
around three-quarters.
Effective intervention
• Studies in the US have shown that even for the most
serious juvenile offenders, effective intervention is
possible with well-devised and targeted programs.
• These can significantly reduce recidivism both for
offenders in the community (by up to 40%) and for those
in custody (by up to 30-35%).
• Whether those results could be achieved in WA, given
the particular demographic and ethnic factors which bear
upon juvenile offending in this State, is an open
• In WA it costs between $600 and $700 per day to keep a
juvenile in custody.
• Community-based supervision is a fraction of this cost, but if
done properly, is still expensive.
• The Auditor General estimated that the 250 children who had
the most intersection with the criminal justice system would,
between the ages of 10 and 17 years, cost the State of
Western Australia, $100 million.
• That is an average of $400,000 per child.
• Between 2007/08 and 2010/11, the budget allocated to the
Department of Corrective Services increased from
$473 million to $771 million (an increase of 63%).
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