Longer sentences for juveniles urged

JIJI

An advisory body to the justice minister has urged that the maximum term juveniles may serve for crimes be raised to 20 years from the current 15.

Under current law, an offender under 18 can receive a sentence of 10 to 15 years in prison for crimes otherwise punishable with life imprisonment.

In an outline of a draft bill, the Legislative Council calls for extending the maximum term to 20 years, reflecting growing calls for tougher penalties for juvenile delinquency. The draft also calls for raising the maximum term for indeterminate sentences for juveniles to 15 years from the current 10 years.

The draft suggests setting a new minimum for indeterminate sentences. For instance, if the maximum term is longer than 10 years, the minimum cannot be less than half that, it says.

The draft bill suggests applying a system that provides lawyers to juvenile defendants tried in family courts at national expense not only in cases of serious crimes, including murder and robbery, but also injury and theft. It proposes broadening the range of juvenile cases in which prosecutors can participate.