Juvenile offenders are those Indian citizens who are not adults or are not above 18 years of Age. Many of them are subject of juvenile delinquency which is about committing crime on a regular basis or as a habit by these teenagers. Obviously, the law for adult criminals and those under 18 years of age is different in India and is governed by a lot of factors.
There is a juvenile justice board in India which looks into the juvenile offenders and decides on the course of action or punishment for them and there are certain protocols that need to be adhered to while dealing with cases that involve juvenile. Here’s a run down –
1. When there is a police case or FIR filed or the police catch hold of a juvenile offender, he or she is to be kept under the charge of a special juvenile officer or child welfare officer, who is responsible for producing the child or teenager before the Juvenile justice Board.
2. To conclude on the course of action based on whether the offence or crime was petty or heinous one, an enquiry is carried out. The offense is petty or serious or heinous nature and the child is below 16 years of age, the board may decide on the following punishments considering the crime type –
a. Advice the child and let him or her go home
b. Ask the child to go through counselling
c. Fine the parents of the child
d. Ask the child to do community service
e. Release the child on probation subject to good conduct
f. Direct the child to live in special home for not more than three years
3. For crimes of heinous nature by children above 16 years the board can decide on a trial for the child as adult. But, the child cannot receive any life imprisonment or death sentence without any sort of release possibility.
There are observation or special homes for offenders where these offenders stay for a short time. But, the conditions in these homes are not as required according to many experts. There is a great need for this homes to provide educational activities and training to the kids living there, as the homes do not have any structured activity for them, it ultimately leads to no improvement. There’s this saying ‘an idle mind is a devils workshop’, so there is a dire need to carry out proper rehabilitation of juvenile offenders and building infrastructure where informal systems like voluntary organizations, families and communities are involved and the whole system is transparent enough, is when we can help the juvenile offenders learn a lesson and work towards living a better life once they are out.
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