Media release (21 December 2010) - Have your say on how the justice system deals with young people with cognitive and mental health impairments

The NSW Law Reform Commission today released a consultation paper calling for submissions on how the criminal justice system deals with young people with cognitive and mental health impairments.

Chairperson of the Law Reform Commission the Honourable James Wood AO QC said: 'this paper looks at the issues that face some of the most vulnerable people in our society when they navigate the criminal justice system in NSW.'

'Young people with cognitive and mental health impairments are different from adults and consideration needs to be given as to whether the laws in this area are fair and up-to-date with current scientific and medical knowledge. '

The paper considers the operation of the Bail Act and its impact on the over-representation in custody of young people with cognitive and mental health impairments. It also covers other critical issues such as their diversion out of the criminal justice system and the application of the charging processes and principles concerning fitness for trial, defences and sentences.

'Key questions are whether existing early intervention, diversionary mechanisms and rehabilitation programs are effective in their application to young people with cognitive and mental health impairments, and whether special rules should be developed in relation to trial procedures and sentencing for this group', Mr Wood said.

If you would like to contribute to important policy reform on the issue of young people with cognitive and mental health impairments in the criminal justice system, please make a submission to the NSW Law Reform Commission by 4 February 2011.

Submissions may be made to GPO Box 5199, Sydney NSW 2001 or nsw_lrc@agd.nsw.gov.au.

This is the fifth and final consultation paper in the Commission's broader review of people with cognitive and mental health impairments in the criminal justice system. All of the consultation papers for this review are available on the Commission's website at:


The NSW Law Reform Commission has been proposing changes to the state's law since 1966 as the first permanent law reform agency established in Australia. The Chairperson is the Honourable James Wood AO QC, and the lead Commissioner on this reference is Professor Hilary Astor.

Media Contact: Lauren Judge (02) 8061 9270