20.10.2007 General News

NGO Calls For Community Sentencing For Juveniles

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Offender Management and Rehabilitation Organisation (OMRO), a voluntary organisation, yesteday called for legislative amendment in the country's criminal justice system to adopt community sentences as the best option to address juvenile crime.
Mr Marcus-Chris Lawson, Operations Director of OMRO, who made the call at a press conference, in Accra said: 'Indeed in this way the young offender is more likely to develop a sense of commitment rather than a destructive attitude towards their communities, law and order and the society in general.'
He noted that punishment should not be a primary aim of disposals in the criminal justice system but more attention should be placed on educational and other rehabilitation programmes to reform juveniles.
He said a careful observation of the current crime scene in the country indicated that youth crime had taken centre stage, hence designing appropriate community measures had become the most cost effective route to prevent such vices. Mr Lawson stated that custodial sentences should be restricted to cases where detention was the only genuine option.
He stated that OMRO had therefore been established to advocate for community sentences and to help develop appropriate strategies to address youth crime, adding the objective could not be attained without a legislative amendment.
Mr Lawson stated that OMRO was calling for the use of programmes that would adopt a holistic approach in working with young persons, their families, schools and empower them to change those factors associated with their offending behaviours.
'There is now the urgent need for a practical distinction between welfare and justice if indeed the welfare of the child is paramount and central to the twin legislation of the Children's Act and the Juvenile Act,' Mr Lawson said.

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