Readers, do you remember the 2017 gang rape of a middle school girl in Busan and the kidnapping and murder of an elementary school student in Incheon?

Both cases have one thing in common: a juvenile from law enforcement is included among the perpetrators.

When a juvenile crime or a juvenile-related incident occurs, many people become outraged.

From stories that children commit crimes early because they are more mature than in the past, there are also voices calling for stricter accountability for their sins.



When that happens, the news often comes and goes that the age of juveniles should be lowered.

Relying on public opinion, lawmakers pour out related bills.

In fact, this story is not only recent.

It's a distant past, but it was like that even in the 1950s, when the criminal law was created.

I brought the stenographer of the special meeting of the National Assembly in 1953.

The situation of the meeting is part of whether or not to set the minimum age for criminal minors to 14 in the process of proposing the criminal law.


Acting Chairperson of the Legislative Judiciary Committee Eom Sang-seop

:

Article 9. The conduct of persons under the age of 14 shall not be punished.

You are probably already familiar with this by common sense.

Even if a person under the age of 14 commits a crime, it is not punished.





Deputy Chairman Cho Bong

-am :

Do you have any objections to that?


(There is an objection)



Acting Chairperson Bong-Am Cho

:

Please tell me.

Rep. Baek Nam-sik has an opinion.



Rep

. Nam-sik Paik :

The three (pickpockets) relationships that are currently suffering a lot of damage are usually 12, 13, and 14 years old.

Therefore, if you turn 14, I think this three will be a huge boost.

Therefore, the lawmaker asserts that it is natural for this to be 13 years old.



The story of Rep. Paik Nam-sik at that time does not seem to be much different from what it is now.

As much as he commits a crime at a younger age than 14, the logic is that he should also hold a 13-year-old boy criminally responsible.

The story of juvenile crime that has been going on since 70 years ago, today's Mabu News is going to look at the current situation with data and statistics about this juvenile offender issue and a juvenile detained by law.

We summarized how serious the problem of juvenile offenders is and how much crimes committed by expedited juveniles are increasing.

This is the question Mabu News raises today.



"What do you think about the lowering of the age of juveniles?"

Reasons for lowering the juvenile age


As it was the election promise of Candidate Seok-Yeol Yoon during the presidential election, the contents related to the expedited boy are now included in the government's national agenda.

During the presidential election, not only Yoon Seok-yeol, but also Lee Jae-myung and Ahn Cheol-soo promised to lower the upper age limit for juveniles.

As a result, the Ministry of Justice is now lowering the age of juveniles.

Then, what is the reason for lowering the upper age limit for juveniles?

As adolescents have matured compared to the past and their social awareness level has risen, the main logic is that the appropriate age should be determined.

In addition, there is a public opinion that the age of law enforcement boys should be lowered as there are cases in which some youths commit crimes by abusing their status as juveniles.



Juvenile crimes, juveniles by law, etc. The term 'boy' here means 'boy' as stipulated in the Juvenile Act.

In the Korean Juvenile Act, a juvenile is a person under the age of 19.

In addition, the Criminal Code defines criminal minors as those under the age of 14.

A criminal minor is a person who commits a crime but does not constitute a crime under the Criminal Act.

If you are younger than 10 years old, no matter how wrong you are, criminal sanctions cannot be imposed.

Because they are still young, they have not imposed any legal restrictions.

Schematically based on the age of 19, 14, and 10, it can be represented as shown in the figure below.


Enlarging an image


When a boy commits a crime, different actions are taken depending on his age.

If you are not a criminal minor, you can be punished according to the Criminal Act, and if you are a criminal minor, you are subject to juvenile protection under the Juvenile Act.

First of all, what if a boy between the ages of 14 and under 19, the boy in the red zone, commits a crime?

In this case, juvenile protection is possible, but criminal punishment is possible, so you can go to jail.

A criminal record will remain.

Of course, as a juvenile, the sentence that can be given is limited to a maximum of 20 years.



Boys between the ages of 10 and 14, and those in the yellow zone, are not subject to criminal punishment and can only receive juvenile protection.

This age group is a spur-of-the-moment boy.

The protective measures that juveniles are given are divided into a total of 10 stages.

If you receive No. 10, the heaviest punishment, you will be sent to a juvenile detention center for two years.

However, even if you receive a protective order, no criminal record is left behind.



What the government is trying to do right now is to lower the upper limit of the age of this young man to 14 years old.

When a criminal minor is changed to under the age of 12, the number of juveniles under the law is reduced from 10 to under 12.

Now, even if the 12-year-olds and 13-year-olds commit a crime, they were given juvenile protection instead of criminal punishment.


What is the current status of juvenile crime?


So, what is the current situation of juvenile crime in Korea?

There are three places in Korea where you can view juvenile crime data.

Prosecutors, police and courts.

The problem is that the data is slightly different for each of the three institutions.

As a result, the trend of juvenile crime can be interpreted differently depending on which statistics are cited.

In Mabu News, we analyzed the current situation with all the data available to us.



First, let's look at the prosecution data.

The most recent statistics provided by the prosecution are <Crime Analysis of the Supreme Prosecutors' Office> published in 2021.

Prosecution data covers all boys under the age of 18.

The total number of criminals in South Korea in 2020 is 1,638,000,387.

Among them, there were 64,480 juvenile offenders under the age of 18, accounting for 3.9% of all criminals.

If you look only after the 2000s, the number of juvenile offenders peaked at 134,992 in 2008 and has been declining until recently.

If you draw the ratio of juvenile offenders to all criminals, it is shown below, but it is also decreasing.


Enlarging an image


The number of juvenile offenders may also decrease as the number of boys under the age of 18 decreases due to the low birth rate.

Compared to the resident registration demographics available from 2008, the percentage of juvenile offenders among boys under the age of 18 is also on the decline.

In 2008, the proportion of juvenile offenders was 1.2% of the juvenile population, and in 2020 it is 0.79%.

Although it fluctuates by year, it can be seen that the number of juvenile crimes under the age of 18 is decreasing compared to the past.



It is noteworthy that the proportion of violent crimes among all juvenile crimes is increasing.

See the graph below?

In the early 2000s, the ratio of violent crimes among all juvenile crimes was 2.5% on average, but recently it has risen to over 5%.

In particular, the rate of sexual offenses is increasing.

Sex crimes accounted for only 35.4% of violent crimes in 2000, but in 2020, it increased to 86.2%.

In 2018, the rate of sexual offenses accounted for 90.4%, exceeding 90% for the first time.


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Now let's look at police data.

Unlike the prosecution data, the police data only provides data on minors aged 14 to 19, excluding those under the age of 14.

Based on police data, the total number of criminals in 2020 is 1,4944,421.

Among them, 64,152 were juvenile offenders under the age of 19.

That's 4.3% of the total.

Although the statistics and numbers of the prosecution are different, the fact that the number of juvenile offenders has decreased since 2012 and that the ratio of juvenile crimes to total crimes is also on the decline was consistent.



When looking at only violent crimes by juvenile offenders with police data, there was no clear trend of increase as with the prosecution data.

Of the total 86,616 juvenile offenders in 2011, 3,209 or 3.7% of juvenile offenders committed violent crimes.

However, the ratio of sexual offenses among violent crimes was increasing, just like the prosecution statistics.

In 2011, the rate of sexual offenses was 58.7% of all violent crimes, but in 2020, the rate increased to 72.4%.


Q. But why are the police and prosecution data different?



The police provide statistics on juvenile crimes from 14 to 18 years old, and the prosecution provides data including those under the age of 14.

However, even in the prosecution data, from 2018 to 2020, the juvenile crime data under the age of 14 is ZERO.

Then, the three-year juvenile crime data should be the same as the police, but there is a difference of up to 358 people.

Why?



First of all, since the subject of statistics production is different, it is said that some cases are omitted as the case moves around.

If the police send the case to the court right away, or if it ends with a ban, the prosecution will not be able to figure out the case.

In this case, statistics input itself may not be possible.

In addition, it is pointed out that the investigators in charge of statistics are not entering the data properly.

Compared to investigations, crime statistics input has a lower priority, so statistics tend to be pushed back.

The input criteria are not clear, so there are cases where it differs depending on the author.



Experts point out that it is necessary to properly manage these basic statistics first.

In the UK, crime statistics management is the subject of audit, and investigators are checking whether the crime classification is correct and whether the recorded data is accurate, but in Korea, there is no such thing.

Since the main actors of statistics production are different, systematic management is not possible.

What is the current situation of the young boy?


The statistics of the prosecution and police are limited in that they can only know about boys who have been subjected to criminal punishment, that is, boys over the age of 14.

However, in the court data, in addition to the current status of criminal cases, you can see statistics on the juveniles who received protection measures, that is, the juveniles who have been prosecuted.

The third statistics related to juvenile crime, <Judicial Yearbook> and <Statistics Monthly Report> of the Ministry of Court Administration, will look at the current status of juveniles under law.



If we look at court statistics, the number of cases treated as juveniles by law among juvenile protection cases has been increasing every year since 2016.

In 2016, there were 6,834 cases, but in 2020, it exceeded 10,000 cases, and last year, 12,024 cases were handled as juvenile cases.

Since 4,169 cases have been processed until April of this year, if you predict this year in a simple ratio, 12,507 cases may exceed last year's figure.

As a percentage of the population, the rate of growth is even faster.

Experts explain that the number of cases related to juvenile crimes is rapidly changing to online crimes in recent years.

Online and cyber crimes that were not previously caught as criminals have recently started to be caught, and the number of cases has increased.


Enlarging an image


If so, how many will there be?

To check, we analyzed the age data of juveniles who received juvenile protection.

Based on the juvenile protection details and environment table data from the Judicial Yearbook, the figure above shows the boys from 10 to 13 years old.

As you can see from the picture, most of the juveniles who received juvenile protection were 13 years old.

On average, 13-year-olds were analyzed as 72.7% of the total shogunate boys.



However, looking at the number of youngsters, it seems difficult to see that the number has been steadily increasing until recently.

In 2011, there were 3,925 juveniles, but in 2020, the number decreased to 3,465.

However, if you look at just three years from 2016 to 2019, you can see the continuous increase in the number of young people.

Even if you look at the percentage compared to the total population from 10 to 13 years old, it is a similar trend.



If the age of juvenile detention is lowered, the 12- and 13-year-olds, who currently make up the majority of juveniles under the law, will be subject to criminal punishment.

Of course, not all 12 and 13 year olds are subject to criminal punishment.

As mentioned above, between criminal punishment and juvenile protection, the court will decide and choose one.

Criminal penalties will only apply to boys who have committed some heinous crimes, such as violent crimes.


Japan chooses severe punishment for juvenile offenders


In 1997, two elementary school students were murdered in a row in Kobe, Japan.

The culprit in this case was a 14-year-old junior high school student Shinichiro Azuma.

At that time, under the Japanese Juvenile Law, minors under the age of 16 could not be subjected to criminal punishment, so Azuma was confined to a juvenile detention center.

After this incident, Japan adopts a policy of severely punishing juvenile offenders.

In 2000, the age for sending a child to a juvenile detention center was lowered from 16 to 14, and in 2007 it was lowered to about 12.

In 2014, the sentences for juvenile offenders were also strengthened.

Could Japan catch juvenile crimes by adopting severe punishment to punish brutal juvenile crimes?



The graph below is the statistics of juvenile criminal offenders and juveniles who have been prosecuted by the Ministry of Justice of Japan.

In 1983, the number of juvenile offenders in Japan peaked at over 260,000.

Since then, the decline has continued, briefly increasing in the late 1990s, and then continuing to decrease.

Is it the effect of the harsh punishment policy?

Japanese juvenile law experts see it as an extension of the decline that has already occurred, rather than the impact of the harsh punishment policy.

Just looking at the proportion of juveniles who have been forced into law, the proportion is higher after severe punishment.

In 2000, 13% of all juvenile offenders were juvenile offenders, but in 2020, that number has risen to 23%.


Enlarging an image


The United States also expanded the criminal transfer system, which strengthens punishment for juvenile offenders, but the side effects were severe.

Although the criminal transfer system is subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, it refers to a system in which criminal punishment is required to be sent to the criminal court.

Analyzing the situation after the strengthening of the criminal transfer system, the results of a study showed that boys who received criminal punishment had a higher recidivism rate and a shorter time until recidivism.

Punishment isn't a good thing.



In 2019, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that countries participating in the Convention on the Rights of the Child keep the lower limit of the age of criminal liability at least 14 years old.

Countries under the age of 14 were asked to raise the standard.

Korea has also received recommendations as it is a party to the Convention.

If you look at the recommendations of the UN, the point is that correction and reformation programs are needed rather than punishment for children's recovery and rehabilitation.

However, the current reduction in the age of juveniles promoted by the Ministry of Justice is going backwards.


Q. Are there good correctional facilities for juvenile offenders in Korea?



Japan has 7 juvenile prisons, 52 juvenile classification judges, and 52 juvenile detention centers.

Not only the facilities but also the management personnel are in short supply.

Experts are pointing out that it is not easy to rehabilitate juvenile offenders if the age of juveniles is lowered without modifying the current correctional system.



Whether it's a juvenile detention center or a juvenile prison, proper correction of juvenile offenders is necessary, but we are still hearing stories that correctional facilities are producing juvenile crimes.

Currently, instead of running a prison facility according to the severity of the crime, they are living in a prison room, which is why they often learn crimes or conspire new crimes.

In fact, the recidivism rate of juvenile offenders increased from 35.1% in 2010 to 40.0% in 2019.

What should be the age of a juvenile delinquent?


Juvenile crime is not significantly increasing compared to the past when we look at the data.

However, the number of violent crimes, especially sex crimes, is increasing.

Although the number of cases related to juvenile detention is clearly increasing, the increase is not clearly visible when considering only the number of juvenile detention.

So, why are we overreacting to juvenile crime and juvenile detention?

Looking at a recent paper (“Analysis of articles on Korean juvenile crime reports and their implications for corrections”, Na-young Kim, Im-ho Bae), the number of articles related to juvenile crimes is much higher than the number of juvenile crimes, raising concerns about the general reader’s view that juvenile crimes have risen sharply. There is an opinion that there is.



Enlarging an image

It is true that family and environment influence the boy, but it is the boy who


chooses the crime among the various options.


Not everyone commits a crime just because the environment is bad.



A boy never grows up alone.


Today's disposition was given to the boy, but the weight of the disposition must be felt by the parents as well.


As Judge Shim Eun-seok, played by Kim Hye-soo, a juvenile judge, said, it is the boy who ultimately chose the crime.

But, despite this, we must think about whether the boy's choice was really the result of the boy alone.

Boys don't grow up alone.

Punishing a boy who didn't grow up alone or educating and educating him, which of the two should we put more weight on?



This is the Mabu News prepared today.

Today, I looked at the data on juvenile crimes and juveniles in prison with data provided by the police, prosecutors, and courts.

What do your readers think?

Do you think it is necessary to lower the age of the juvenile?

Let our readers know what you think in the comments below!

Thank you for reading this long post today.

(*This article is an edited article from the Newsletter.)


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Written by

: Hye-min Ahn

Design

: Jun -seok Ahn

Intern

: Su-min Kang, Dong-yong Kang

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