Will reduction in juvenile age help reduce crime rate?

The Juvenile Justice (Amendment) Bill- 2015, which was cleared by the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, has reduced the age of a juvenile in conflict with law from 18 to 16. When people in the 16-18 age group tend to commit crime, will the new measure act as a deterrence on those below 18 years?

“It is debateable whether reduction in the age limit will bring down the crime rate among youngsters,” says P.V. Ramakrishna Rao, former Additional Public Prosecutor and the Legal Advisor to the Police Commissionerate.

“A holistic approach is needed, especially towards those falling in the 16-18 age group (though they are no longer juveniles as per the Bill) as the offenders in most of the instances fall in this bracket,” he adds.

Going by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) figures, the number of juveniles in conflict with law has been on the rise since 2003.

In 2003, the number of offences committed by juveniles was 17,819. The figure went up to 31,725 in 2013.

Similarly, the number of murders and rapes committed by juveniles in 2003 was 405 and 466 respectively. In 2013, the figures stood at 990 and 1,175. As per the City Crime Record Bureau (CCRB), the number of crimes committed by juveniles in the 2014 was 33 and 43 were nabbed. In 2015, the number stood at 47 and 32 juveniles were caught and sent to various correction homes.

Most of crimes, whether at the national level or city level, are committed by youngsters in the 16-18 age group.

“So, mere reduction of the age of a juvenile may not have any effect on the age group,” says A. Narasimha Murthy, ACP of CCRB, Visakhapatnam. “In most instances, juveniles have a violent family history. About 50 per cent of them hail from broken families. When counsellors at the correction homes try to reunite juveniles with their families, they bluntly refuse,” says Mr. Narasimha Murthy.

Absence of family bonding pushes youngsters onto the road. They are finally caught in the vortex of crimes.

“After leaving their homes, most of them join the existing criminal groups at railway and bus stations. Initially, they commit petty crimes such as stealing food and later shift to graver ones such as theft, rape, and murder for gain to fund the vices they develop over a period of time,” Mr. Narasimha Murthy says.

According to Mr. Ramakrishna Rao, the government should adopt a holistic approach to tackle the issue and decisions should not be based on one single case.

“Most importantly, besides counselling them regularly, juveniles in correction homes should be trained in life skills during their probation period. On completion of the probation period, they should be given a opportunity to serve in the government sector, including the Armed forces and the police. Only then we can confidently say that our correction system is on the right track,” says Mr. Ramakrishna Rao.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 1:58:01 AM |

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