A new bill keeping 10 year olds out of jail is a good start, but it needs to go further

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Abstract

A nine-year-old boy was recently charged with arson and five counts of murder in Illinois, US. In court, the boy didn’t even understand what “arson” meant.

In Australia, a nine year old cannot be prosecuted and found guilty of an offence, but a ten year old can. From ten until 14, children can be held criminally responsible in criminal proceedings if there is proof the child understood the wrongfulness of their behaviour.

But it’s increasingly clear ten years old is too young for a child to be held criminally accountable.

There have been calls for an increase to the minimum age of criminal responsibility in Australia for many decades. The commonwealth, state and territory governments have so far been reluctant to change the age level – but that may soon change.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationThe Conversation
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes

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