skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 210108 Find in a Library
Title: Condemn a Little More, Understand a Little Less: The Political Context and Rights Implications of the Domestic and European Rulings in the Venables-Thompson Case
Journal: Journal of Law and Society  Volume:27  Issue:3  Dated:September 2000  Pages:416-448
Author(s): Deena Haydon; Phil Scraton
Date Published: September 2000
Page Count: 33
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This article reviews and critiques the legal and public responses to the 1993 British cases of Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, who were convicted in adult court of the abduction and murder of 2-year-old James Bulger when Venables and Thompson were 10 years old.
Abstract: Venables and Thompson were sentenced to adult prison for a minimum of 15 years, to extend to such time as the court deemed them rehabilitated. The case was processed amidst public outrage at the killing and strong support for a harsh retributive punishment of the boys. This public reaction was pervaded by a perception and fear of the demonic urges of children, which had to be suppressed with punitive discipline and tight control. In December 1999, the European Court of Human Rights held that in the trial and sentencing of Venables and Thompson, the British Government violated the European Convention on Human Rights. This article explains how this case became a "watershed" in juvenile-justice procedure and practice that influenced the Labour Government's proposals for reform and the British 1998 Crime and Disorder Act. As it reviews the progression of appeals through the British and European courts, this article explores the philosophies that distinguished the United Kingdom's and European approaches to the age of criminal responsibility, the prosecution and sentencing of children, and the influence of political policy on judicial decisions. The article also discusses how the case created a backlash against children, the affirmation of adult power over children, and the implications of the European judgments based in a human rights agenda. 187 notes
Main Term(s): Juvenile justice policies
Index Term(s): European Court of Human Rights; Foreign juvenile delinquency; Foreign juvenile justice systems; Human rights; Human rights violations; Juvenile court waiver; Juvenile murderers; Juvenile sentencing; Public Opinion of Juveniles
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.