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Mediation vs. Juvenile Court for Teens

Tuesday, October, 2, 2012

Mediation between teens in trouble with the law is often better for the teens as well as the community, according to a new study in Australia.

The study shows that mediation is nearly 20% less costly, and also can do a lot more for those involved--both offenders and those affected by the offenders' actions.

Civil Mediation as an Alternative to Criminal Justice

The study was conducted by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. It determined that the monetary cost, on average, was almost 20% lower than dealing with juvenile issues in child's court.

The typical cost for court was found to be $2278, while the typical conference ran about $1330.

What that is certainly a great deal less than court, why exactly to youth mediation conferences cost so much?

The Many Moving Parts of Youth Conference Mediation Services

These youth conferences usually have many moving parts. It typically involves these parties:

The offender(s)

The parents and/or guardians of the offender(s)

The victim(s)

Family members of the victims, when appropriate

A Youth Justice Coordinator

A police representative.

Snags in the Youth Conference Process

The process isn't seamless however. For there to be money saved in the process, the accused party must admit to guilt before the mediation can start. Otherwise, the guilt or lack thereof will need to be determined in children's court. 

A court can mandate that the issue be taken care of via mediation. Youth conferencing is thought by many to be a better solution when it comes to the young offender's life and effects of perpetration. That is, it is better at healing wounds and at keeping the youth from offending in the future.

Unfortunately, court costs must then be added to mediation costs for this purpose. The full court cost is not usually assessed; however, as such cases typically spend less time in court.