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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 228743 Find in a Library
Title: Toward Good Practice for Diversion: The Development of Minimum Standards in the South African Child Justice System
Journal: Journal of Offender Rehabilitation  Volume:48  Issue:7  Dated:October 2009  Pages:571-588
Author(s): Amelia Van Der Merwe; Andrew Dawes
Date Published: October 2009
Page Count: 18
Sponsoring Agency: Royal Netherlands Embassy in South Africa
0001 Pretoria ,
Type: Guideline
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper describes research undertaken in South Africa for the purpose of developing minimum standards for interventions that divert juveniles from the criminal justice system.
Abstract: The study advises that if juvenile diversion interventions are to have a chance of success, they must meet basic standards of pre-referral assessment and program design and delivery. Assessment should occur prior to the prosecutor's decision regarding whether to divert the young offender from formal criminal justice processing. Increased communication between probation officers and prosecutors is essential for ensuring that significant information about the needs and circumstances of the juvenile identified in the probation officer's assessment is shared with those who make decisions about the management of the young offender. A first step in improving pre-referral assessment is to conduct an audit of human resources in the youth system, particularly probation officers in each jurisdiction. Any staff shortages found must be addressed. An audit of staff training levels should also be conducted in order to determine the extent to which they are able to conduct assessments in accordance with minimum standards. One of the key functions of assessment is to place the juvenile in the most appropriate program. Regarding standards for program design and delivery, the resources allocated should match identified offender risk levels with intervention components. Interventions must be evidence-based, meaning they have proven their effectiveness through objective evaluations. Program objectives must be clearly stated and linked to program activities and desired outcomes for the juvenile. Further, diversion interventions must be regularly and systematically monitored and evaluated. The aforementioned standards for juvenile diversion interventions guide diversion practice under the South African Child Justice Act. For each standard, the mean scores for the appropriateness of the standard and its feasibility in the South African context were derived from key informant ratings. 2 figures, 26 references, and appended listing of generic principles for effective diversion programs, minimum standards for pre-referral assessments, and minimum standards for the design and delivery of diversion programs
Main Term(s): Juvenile court diversion
Index Term(s): Assessment (juvenile); Foreign juvenile justice systems; Juvenile diversion programs; Juvenile program needs assessment; South Africa; Treatment intervention model; Treatment offender matching
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