KIC Research in Brief

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KIC Research in Brief

Steps for improving a crime response system for violent juvenile crimes

I. The rise in violent juvenile crimes

In the last decade, there was a rise in violent juvenile crimes despite the overall decrease in the number of juvenile crimes. A few homicide and aggravated battery cases involving juvenile offenders highlighted the trends.

II. Response of the criminal justice system to violent juvenile crimes

The number of criminal cases filed by the prosecution were increased while the number of juvenile court referrals were decreased. In the juvenile courts, the proportion of dismissal in court disposition was increased and the court disposition time was increased. The proportions of determinate sentences and suspended sentence were increased while the proportion of indeterminate sentence was increased.

III. The rationale for Juvenile Act and rethinking lowering the age of criminal responsibility

1) Assessing the impact of strong punishment on recidivism of juvenile offenders and their relation to court disposition

The U.K. cannot effectively resolve juvenile crimes despite its low age of criminal responsibility (age 10). Japan lowered the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years of age, but the rate of juvenile crimes has not been decreased. Given the trends, it is difficult to say that the age of criminal responsibility currently at 14 years of age in Korea cannot be said to be high and the crime trends do not indicate that the age of juvenile offenders had become lowered in recent years.

2) The trends of lenient disposition in foreign jurisdictions

In foreign jurisdictions, the arguments against putting juvenile offenders in adult prisons are on the rise. In Germany, many research found that community corrections were more effective than long-term incarceration. In the state of New York, many opposed treating juvenile and adult offenders in the same manner and the state government announced that it would seek remedial actions. In Norway, politicians and the media argued against sensationalizing reports on juvenile offenders and emphasize the collective responsibility of communities to reintegrate juvenile offenders.

IV. Addressing gaps in the current juvenile justice system

1) It is recommended to introduce conditional sentencing where the juvenile defendant, after completing court-ordered education or other conditions, can be disposed to suspended sentences.

2) It is recommended to allow defendants at certain ages can be tried in adult courts instead of granting unconditional immunity to all juvenile offenders.