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Nigeria’s evolving juvenile justice system

An article by Iyabode Ogunniran discussing the evolution of juvenile justice in Nigeria was released in the Spring 2013 edition of the Justice Policy Journal yesterday. Unlike the United States, Nigeria has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and taken steps to domesticate it through its own legal processes.

DDAP case manager meets with youth client

CJCJ's DDAP case manager meets with a youth client. The detention diversion advocacy program (DDAP) helps youth exit the justice system without a period of confinement.

Photo by Willy Johnson | breakbeatbilly.com

The Convention enumerates basic human rights, and provides direction regarding the application of juvenile justice. Specifically, Article 40 (4) provides that “a variety of dispositions, such as care, guidance and supervision orders; counseling; probation; foster care; education and vocational training programs and other alternatives to institutional care shall be available to ensure that children are dealt with in a manner appropriate to their well-being and proportionate both to their circumstances and the offence.” Additionally, Article 37 of the Convention requires that detention shall “be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time”.  Thus, the Convention promotes the use of alternate placement and treatment over incarceration.

Ogunniran’s article discusses Nigeria’s progress in exploring diversion alternatives for youth who have committed minor crimes, and the need for further implementation and expansion to other offense types. According to her study, confined youth in Nigeria often lack access to education, clean water, and prompt medical care.  Ogunniran observes,

“The implementation of [-] non custodial dispositional measures that is, counseling and community service will enhance the self-worth of the offenders and reduce the use and escalating cost of maintaining custodial institutions.”

Ratifying and internalizing the basic human rights of youth is a strong step towards developing a 21st century juvenile justice system. The Convention requires the abolition of life without parole sentences for youth, and investment in legal process and representation for youth in the court system. These protections redirect the juvenile justice system towards its primary purpose of rehabilitation.

Read Ogunniran’s article >>

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Established in 2001 in partnership with the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and San Francisco State University, the Justice Policy Journal is CJCJ’s online academic journal providing an international forum for researchers and policymakers to examine current justice trends and policy solutions.

Volume 10, Number 1 includes articles investigating the motivations of volunteers at faith-based halfway houses, the public safety impact of gun laws in light of competing ideologies, and the necessity of evaluating residential substance abuse treatment programs’ aftercare services.

Keywords: community corrections, dispositional options, Nigeria, Selena Teji, youth

Posted in Blog, Juvenile Justice

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