Criminals should be sentenced as per their maturity not age: UK studyMarch 2nd, 2011 - 5:42 pm ICT by ANI
London, Mar 2 (ANI): A UK study has suggested that criminals should be given sentences based on their emotional and psychological maturity and not on their age.
A majority of both the public (69 percent), and parliamentarians (81 percent), believe such factors should be taken into account when sentencing young adults.
Currently an individual is sentenced on the basis of their age, with under-18s subject to the youth system and over-18s subject to the law as it applies to adults.
However, the Transition to Adulthood (T2A) Alliance argues that as people mature at different rates and many young adults in trouble with the law exhibit developmental levels characteristic of far younger people, courts should treat 18 to 24-year-olds on a case-by-case basis, according to their maturity.
This currently happens in Germany, where young adult offenders can be dealt with either in the adult or juvenile system depending on psychological and emotional assessments of their maturity.
The ComRes poll conducted on behalf of T2A found almost three quarters (74 percent) of coalition MPs think maturity should be taken into account when sentencing a young person.
Some 44 percent of Tories and 82 percent of Liberal Democrat MPs also think the decision to sentence young adults either in the adult or juvenile system should be taken on a case-by-case basis or as a distinct group, rather than being treated the same as older adults.
Labour differs on this issue, with a slim majority (54 percent) in favour of always treating young adults the same as those 25 years of age or older.
“This poll reveals that our criminal justice system is behind the times,” the Daily Mail quoted Rob Allen, chair of the T2A Alliance, as saying.
“Both the public and parliamentarians support our calls for a common-sense approach that doesn’t assume everyone reaches full maturity on their 18th birthday.
“The fact that support services targeted at youths in the criminal justice system disappear overnight when a young person hits 18 is very damaging, and it is no wonder that so many of them fall back into crime.
“Eighteen to 24-year-olds are over-represented in the criminal justice system. But other countries such as Germany, have long demonstrated a more constructive approach to this age group.
“The Government is already making some of the right noises about bridging the gap between youth and adult services but now they need to follow through and drastically improve transition measures.
“This poll shows such reforms would win strong public support. They would also bring down crime rates and make financial savings in the long term. There really isn’t any time to waste,” he stated.
ComRes surveyed 150 MPs on the ComRes parliamentary panel between January 13 and February 7 by self-completion postal questionnaire and online.
Data was weighted to reflect the exact composition of the House of Commons in terms of party representation and regional constituency distribution.
Some 2,051 adults were also polled online in February as part of the research. (ANI)
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