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Responding to Juvenile Crime in Thailand

Families and victims to get their say and Families are to get rehab role are two headlines appearing in the Bangkok Post in June. The articles refer to an announcement by the Juvenile Observation and Protection Department of its plans to institute family group conferencing with juvenile offenders beginning July 1. The Department hopes to lower the number of juveniles held in detention centres through this programme.

Juveniles who are charged with minor crimes carrying a penalty of less than five years in detention will be eligible for diversion to the conferences. The conferences will include young offenders, their families, victims, social welfare officials, police officers, and psychologists. It is anticipated that the conferences will end in a reparation agreement including financial compensation to the victim and community service.  Families will be called on to support the young offender in completing the agreement. Probation officers will also monitor the young offenders for any further offending behaviour. 

Conferencing will be available at all stages of a trial process with police, prosecutors, or judges authorized to refer the young offenders. It is expected that as many as 9,000 young offenders could participate in conferences each year. Over 35,000 young offenders are currently held in remand detention centres, according to the Juvenile Observation and Protection Department. 

The need for alternative responses to juvenile crime was highlighted at a 2000 conference in Thailand entitled "Alternative Juvenile Justice: Innovative Approaches to Delinquent Corrections".  A representative of the Thailand Criminal Law Institute reported that the number of young offenders (7-18 years-old) convicted of crimes had risen from 55,258 in 1995 to 60,056 in 1997. Furthermore, 15% of young offenders released from detention were later rearrested.   Conference participants called for alternatives to detaining juveniles because many of the young offenders were unable to return to society as productive members due to the negative consequences of incarceration. Family group conferencing was introduced to the conference participants by a team of experts from New Zealand.

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Resources used: 

Charoenpo, Anucha. 2003. "Families set to have rehab role." From the Bangkok Post. Asia Africa Intelligence Wire. June 6.

Charenpo, Anucha. 2003. "Families and victims to get their say." From the Bangkok Post. Asia Africa Intelligence Wire. April 28.

Fears over rise in juvenile delinquency. Thailandlife.com.

 

Lynette Parker

August 2003

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