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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77485 Find in a Library
Title: Young Offenders - Comments on the White Paper on Young Adult and Juvenile Offenders
Journal: British Journal of Criminology  Volume:21  Issue:1  Dated:(January 1981)  Pages:74-78
Author(s): A Rutherford
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 5
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: Background information on trends in juvenile justice in Great Britain during the 1970's is presented, followed by comments on the 1980 Government White Paper on young adult and juvenile offenders.
Abstract: The 1969 Children and Young Persons Act and the 1974 Younger Committee report aimed toward the rehabilitative ideal and a shift of resources from custody to community-based programs. However, some crucial provisions of the 1969 law were never implemented, and the notion of rehabilitation was under strong attack by the mid-1970's. Sentencing practices for youths aged 14-16 ran counter to the 1969 act in that the percentage of custodial sentences increased while the percentage of probation or supervision orders declined between 1970 and 1978. The White Paper contains an array of general concerns and proposals rather than a coherent policy. The paper's main goal is to strengthen courts' sentencing powers, especially regarding custodial sanctions. For example, repeal of the unimplemented provisions of the 1969 law is proposed; the proposed residential care order restores to the courts some elements of the approved school order which was ended by the 1969 law. The paper's emphasis on custodial sanctions is defended on the grounds that legislation to encourage and expand noncustodial sanctions is not needed. The paper emphasizes the importance of alternatives to custody as well as shorter sentences where a custodial sentence is unavoidable. The paper's main defect is its attempt to provide the courts with greater flexibility in sentencing while decreasing the use of custody. These two purposes are in conflict with one another. Furthermore, the paper has overlooked research findings indicating the irrationality of courts' use of available sanctions. It has also failed to examine the implications of its proposals for the number of juveniles held in custody or to discuss the distribution of costs between central and local government in view of the strong financial incentive for local government to use custodial sentences financed by the central government. The paper's proposals, if enacted, will probably increase pressure on the prison system and may increase the urgency of the need to rethink the whole basis of sentencing young offenders. Footnotes and 10 references are listed.
Index Term(s): Attitude change; Community-based corrections (juvenile); Critiques; Custody vs treatment conflict; Great Britain/United Kingdom; Juvenile adjudication; Juvenile codes; Juvenile courts; Juvenile sentencing
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