The law has long since recognized that there are many young people who "come of age" and are due to have their sentences transferred to the adult system at age 18, but who may not be able to withstand incarceration for a number of reasons. Specifically, in New South Wales, s19(3) of the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987 recognizes that a young person under the age of 21 may be able to serve some or all of their term of imprisonment as a juvenile offender if the young person is deemed to meet criteria of "special circumstances". Section 19(4) specifies those circumstances as illness or disability, access to educational, vocational and therapeutic programmes and the risk of psychological or physical risk of harm. The underlying principle in this regard is that juveniles are typically at a different developmental stage from adults and have unique levels of need as compared with adult offenders. Thus, juveniles are considered to be potentially subject to a number of factors related to "vulnerability" that may invoke consideration of s19.
- juvenile vulnerability