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Criminal records of juvenile offenders may be exposed

EXCLUSIVE: Secret criminal records of juvenile offenders will be publicly revealed if they reoffend as adults, under a plan being considered by the State Government.
Crime victims applauded the move, which comes after decades of policy dictating the identity of child criminals be kept secret.
Under current laws, the criminal records of juvenile offenders and their identities cannot be revealed, even if they reoffend, without court permission. Supreme Court challenges to name child brutes have previously failed.
The Sunday Herald Sun can reveal the State Government is considering a proposal to change the Children Youth and Family Act and the Corrections Act to allow criminal records of juvenile offenders to be made public if they offended as adults.
Under the plan, youth offenders would have to have committed serious crimes, such as murder, manslaughter or sexual offences.
Petty thefts and minor offences would not be revealed as part of the plan, keeping in line the ethos of giving the kiddie crims a chance to rehabilitate.
The offences committed as juveniles would only be revealed in the adult court system for serious crimes and for repeat offenders.
Judges and magistrates know the criminal records when sentencing offenders, but the public is denied knowing the full extent of the criminal history.
Ben Harris, chief of staff to Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge, said: "The Government considers a range of proposals, looking at the evidence and considering the interests of the community."
Janine Greening's 73- year-old mother Marie Greening Zidan was sexually assaulted, bashed and then choked to death in 2000 at her Seaford home by two youths, aged 15 and 16.
Ms Greening has waged a 13-year battle to lift a suppression order on the names. One of the sadistic killers reoffended only months after being released on parole after serving nine years.
She said the law change would finally be justice.
"It would be some consolation and would mean other families don't have to go through what I have," Ms Greening said.
Youth Parole Board figures show one in three juvenile criminals granted parole last year was thrown back into detention after breaching parole.
A record 257 parole orders were issued last financial year, but 36 reoffended only a short time after being released, while 51 failed to comply with conditions.
Liberty Victoria vice-president and barrister Michael Stanton said the priority with youth offenders was rehabilitation and they should not be made an example of in sentencing.
He said the law recognised the need for open justice but could not see a benefit in revealing criminal records committed as minors.
"The Government should tread carefully. We should not diminish protection offered to children in the youth justice system," he said.
Youth Parole Board chairman Judge Michael Bourke said the number of orders cancelled showed that youth offenders were closely supervised.

Sunday Herald Sun (7-7-2013)
Aleks Devic
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law-order/criminal-records-of-juvenile-offenders-may-be-exposed/story-fni0ffnk-1226675343065


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