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Fewer young offenders this year

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, November 30
Georgia’s Minister of Justice, Thea Tsulukiani, says that this year, more juveniles were offered opportunities through the diversion-mediation program rather than prison terms.

“This year, the percentage of juveniles with a 'not guilty' verdict was four percent, which was the same as last year, but when compared to previous years this figure was only 0.3 percent," Tsulukiani said.

The Minister said the decrease in cases of imprisonment for juvenile offenders meant that Georgia’s new Juvenile Justice Code adopted in 2015 had “performed well”.

This 'diversion' refers to giving a first-time offender of a minor crime the chance to perform community service instead of a prison sentence as punishment for their crime, while mediation is a dynamic, structured, interactive process wherein a neutral third party assists disputing parties in resolving conflict through the use of specialised communication and negotiation techniques.

Before November 2014m only juveniles accused of minor crimes in Georgia had the opportunity to the diversion-mediation program, but after November 2014 the program expanded and was offered to juveniles who also faced charges for heavy crimes.

Several days ago, Georgia’s Minister of Corrections Kakha Kakhishvili announced that a new prison would be built for young convicts between 14-21, where they would be offered a range of programs to reintegrate with society easily when released.

Under the new regulations drafted within the Juvenile Justice Code, all criminal cases in Georgia involving minors will be handled by police officers, investigators, prosecutors and judges who specialise in juvenile offending.

The main changes related to the youth offender's criminal record and prison terms.

According to the new law, youth offenders will now have a reduced pre-trial detention period from 60 to 40 days. A youth offender's conviction status will be removed as soon as their sentence period has finished. The period of being classed as an accused will be extended up to six months.

A more active approach to young offenders is vital, as if they leave prisons with some qualifictions and experience, they will have better opportunities to be employed, and the chances that they will reoffend will decrease.

The public should also change their attitudes to such people, as giving no chances to former convicts and refusing to employ them may push them to return to crime.