How the balance between welfare and justice changed over time

Document Type:Essay

Subject Area:Criminology

Document 1

Great Britain has put in place several measures to try and improve the Youth Justice System over the last few decades. They include the setup of the Youth Justice Board, the restriction of non-custodial penalties available for juvenile courts and the Youth Offender Teams (Muncie, 2008). The government initiated such programs with the aim of reducing offending among the youths. Nevertheless, the government went through a vigorous process of campaigns against deviant behavior. The reports have shown drastic improvement, furthermore the number of youths under 15 facing sentencing has declined (Bruno, 2011). However, there are arguments that these practices have brought about conflicts between welfare and justice approaches (Goldson, 1997). This paper will highlight, explain and focus greatly on the relationship between children’s’ welfare and the justice system towards juveniles in England and Wales and compare with other countries. The process of applying the law on children is considered controversial over the last few decades. The United Kingdom has varying ages where the child can bear criminal responsibility. In Wales and England, the age is fixed at 10 while other countries such as Scotland has maintained the age at eight, however this is set to rise to 12, under new bill brought to Scottish Parliament (minimum age of criminal responsibility, 2018) (Sutherland, 2016) Denmark is currently 15 and Portugal 16 (minimum age of criminal responsibility in Europe, 2018). The varying ages for the responsibility of crimes, raises concerns to an extent firstly, can children be held responsible for the crimes they have committed. Secondly, how the welfare approaches can be developed to ensure that children do not commit offenses again.

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Thirdly, does the criminal justice system and other rehabilitation programs recognize how vulnerable children are to the processes. Capriani, 2016) One of the core areas of concern about youth justice is the development of welfare for the children Welfare in justice assumes that practices should meet the needs of the youth rather than punishment (Muncie, 2008). In the 1960s the welfare policies had the support of both major parties Labor and Conservative Parties in the United Kingdom. The Labour and the Conservative governments recognized that youth crime was an area of social concern. Decriminalizing youth crime has been criticized by lawyers and magistrates have faced resistance from legal establishments. Resistance also emanated from criminologists who have criticized welfarism for its denial of constitutional rights which stimulate state intervention (Brown, 2005). In 1969, the Children and Young Persons Act, was the first policy set out in place for young People.

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It was the initiative of the UK parliament that passed the Scotland Act which founded the new Children's Hearings System in Scotland. The powers to impose the care order was abolished. At the same time, the Act led to the separation of the care jurisdictions and long-standing dual crime of the juvenile courts (Berrick, 2015). These developments took place at a period when new evidence was available which suggested a close interconnection between offending and care issues. The treatment and detention of the young and children with mental disorders were under the regulations of the Children Act, 1989 and the Family Act, 1969 saw an overlap in their roles. A crossover of similar cases with parallel English jurisdictions were demonstrated, cases no longer being trial in juvenile were now transferred to family courts (Bottoms & Stevenson, 2006).

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A necessity arose for reverting to law and order through criminal control in the 1980s. The incoming Conservative government, 1979 pledged to stand firm against crime. The move ensured that the UK returned to the Criminal Justice Act, 1982, by the 1990s, there was a real concern about the rise in the juvenile crimes. Estrada, 1999, 30) The murder of James Bulger age 2 in 1993 by two 10-year-old boys, raised high concerns (moral Panic) about how the government was going to move forward from the 14th century which had enshrined that children were incapable of crime (Goldson, 1997). Nevertheless, the government received substantial criticism in the 1990s, which influenced the government to eliminate the principle with the hope of convicting young offenders who were harmful to the communities. Wilson (2013) claimed that crime was on the rise because of community failure to help the situation and family breakdown.

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ASBO was a result of the Crime and Disorder Act, 1998, it was later amended to the Anti-Social Behavior Act, 2003. The reform was a civil order by the police and other local agencies established on anybody over ten years likely to cause alarm and distress. The order established punishment of up to 5 years imprisonment, today 42 percent of the orders made against young offenders are breached which leads to 46 percent custodial sentences (Roberts & Andrew, 2016: 307) Critics such as Ashworth (1998) have questioned the legal values of the ASBOs and the criminal penalties attached to them, Jill Peay (1989) also raised concerns highlighting the inappropriate applications of some of these orders from offenders suffering from mental disorders. A survey done in April 2004 revealed that the ASBOs were imposed on youths under the age of 17 with mental disorders and learning difficulties.

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Attempts were made to introduce elements of restorative justice in the policies of England and Wales, such changes were aimed at reducing punishments. The elements of restorative justice that came to effect from the supporters who included social theologians, social abolitionists, victim's movement and postcolonial critics. These people came together to give justice that new look through helping the victims and the offenders to overcome trauma. The restorative justice approach focused on the involvement of the victim on to ensure their voices are heard in the sentencing process. The penal abolitionists, for example, had been of the argument that punishment by the state was oppressive and ought to be replaced by dispersing decision-making amongst the various communities (Smith, 2007). A Youth offender Officer was mandated to engage with the offender of the crime to identify interventions that could reform them.

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The role of the Youth Offender Officers is to help address youth crime through meetings which have been the element of the recent years (Brown, 2005). Nevertheless, they have been seen to play the interventionist role by ensuring that the victims meets the offender in order, so they can share awareness about the impact of the offense. Despite the milestone the Referral Order has made, others say it still lacks the core components of the restrictive process (Brown, 2005). The primary concern of the initiative has been the level of involvement by the victims, others are of the opinion that the level of participation has not been satisfactory and therefore the outcome of the initiative has been fluctuating according to the level of involvement of the victims. The body was created by the Crime and Disorder Act, 1998 and has the sponsorship of the Ministry of Justice (Solomon and Garside, 2008).

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The Board committee are appointees of the Secretary of State for Justice. The board's main objective is to prevent offending and makes efforts towards ensuring that it shapes and advises the justice system for the benefits of the children and the youth. By their advisory role, the Board envisions a crime-free society and mitigation upon the impact of crime on families. The organization works with a network of other organizations under it. The importance of the Children Trust is that it intended to give a more integrated approach to the justice system. The separation of the youth and the family courts meant that there was a clear distinction between welfare and justice decisions for the convenience of service delivery. The disadvantage of the reform could be that since the automaticity principle is still dominant, the attention on welfare considerations may be limited.

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Pecora & Massinga, 2004, 164) In summary, the Youth Justice System has seen a massive milestone in the definition of the difference between welfare and justice (Goldson, 1997). The process of coming to this level though has been procedural.  The Future of Children, pp. Estrada, F. Juvenile crime trends in post-war Europe.  European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 7(1), pp. Justice, Restorative. Race shapes perceptions of juvenile offenders in criminal court.  Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39(7), pp.

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