Dealing with child offendersAn examination of some aspects of juvenile justice systems and a proposal for reform based on the needs of the individual child
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis › Doctor of Philosophy
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This thesis questions the ability of the present juvenile justice system (JJS) in England and Wales to deliver justice to the individual child offender. It begins with a critique of the early development of the JJS within the historical context of the industrialisation and urbanisation of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It also assesses the present approaches for processing child offenders, and the conflict which persists within the JJS between rehabilitation and punishment. This is followed by an examination of the Scottish JJS in its pre- and postKilbrandon reforms and the present system which continues to evolve whilst remaining focused on the child as an individual in need of help preferably provided outside the formalised courtbased system. The examination of the Irish JJS again explores the divergence in approaches to child offending with the development of a diversionary programmes implemented by the Irish police to direct child offenders away from crime and where possible the formal court system. However, the Irish system also maintains more traditional interventions, including custody, for those who fail to respond. The thesis broadens to assess the extent to which the JJS itself contributes to criminality because of its inherent carceral features which are also present in wider society. It examines the potential negative carceral effects and how they may undermine attempts by child offenders to adopt more positive behaviours. The revolving door of further contact with the JJS is considered and, in some instances, this can continue into adulthood and the adult criminal justice system. The thesis concludes with a proposal for the fundamental reform of the present JJS. It advocates radical approach to child offenders which reflects the insights gained from the examination of the Scottish and Irish JJS, and the field of therapeutic jurisprudence. It proposes the use of behavioural problem solving, rather than punishment, to promote behavioural change in child offenders. It promotes recognition of the child offender as, firstly, a vulnerable child deserving of treatment by a non-criminalised system wherever possible. Such an approach, it is argued, would offer a more sustainable and effective pathway to behavioural change and encourage desistance from offending and though it would benefit primarily the individual child offender, it would also provide benefits to society as a whole.
Thesis, 1.91 MB, PDF
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Thesis, 1.91 MB, PDF
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