Scotland plans children's courts

April 27, 2008 at 7:26 AM
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EDINBURGH, Scotland, April 27 (UPI) -- Scottish tweens and teens accused of minor crimes like vandalism or bullying may soon have their fates decided by juries of their peers -- other children.

The proposal is based on a children's court in New York, The Scotsman reports.

One former high court judge called the plan "a completely crackpot idea drawn up on the back of an envelope." But other reactions are more favorable.

"It sounds like something worth trying," said John Scott, a criminal defense lawyer. "Sometimes young people can get through to young offenders in a way that judges, lawyers and social workers can't."

Officials are still working out the details, like what age range would be included and how to ensure that juries include children from different backgrounds. Juries would get several weeks of training before they listen to evidence.

Possible penalties might include repairing damage, writing letters of apology and making an in-person apology with victims able to describe the effect the crime had.

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