Pubdate: Wed 22 July, 1998 
Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) 
Author: Nick Papadopoulos


Juveniles charged with drug offences including possession of heroin should
be cautioned rather than being sent to prison, the president of the Law
Society of NSW, Mr Ron Heinrich, said yesterday.

Mr Heinrich said that reform was needed to prevent juveniles from being
drawn into the criminal justice system where they were likely to become
hardened criminals.

The State Government's "lock 'em up" approach was not working.

The call follows Victoria's decision to caution first-time offenders caught
with small quantities of cannabis, rather than automatically charging them,
following a successful six-month pilot program in the Broadmeadows district.

Mr Heinrich urged the Premier, Mr Carr, to introduce a similar program in
NSW and to monitor closely a pilot program being launched in Victoria which
would see first-time heroin users cautioned as well.

These "innovative" Victorian programs reflected a positive step towards
minimising the harm associated with drug use, he said.

The Law Society has already written to Mr Carr and to the Police
Commissioner, Mr Ryan, urging the extension of the cautioning and
conferencing scheme in the Young Offenders Act to include minor drug offences.

The offences would include the supply and possession of a prescribed small
quantity of prohibited drugs ranging from cannabis to heroin and cocaine.

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Checked-by: Melodi Cornett