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Policy of Taking Maladapted Youth Into Custody and the Evolution of Juvenile Criminality

NCJ Number
Revue de science criminelle et de droit penal compare Issue: 4 Dated: (October-December 1979) Pages: 753-786
J L Costa
Date Published
34 pages
The French Study Commission on Juvenile Court Protection characterizes juvenile delinquency in France, discusses judiciary policy for dealing with it, and evaluates current options.
The Law of December 23, 1958, extended the responsibility of the French juvenile justice system to take care of 'endangered juveniles.' While this measure proved beneficial to many endangered juveniles, the juvenile justice agencies no longer had the capacity to fulfill their essential task--that of dealing with juvenile delinquents. As a result of this crisis, fewer juvenile delinquents were referred to treatment or observation agencies and, conversely, more delinquents were sentenced to preventive detention or criminal sanctions. Because of its excessive workload, the French criminal justice system no longer adheres to three basic principles stated in 1945, which govern the treatment of problem juveniles: the priority of prevention over repression; the continuous care for juveniles by a specialized official; and social rehabilitation through the treatment of the individual. In order to return to those principles, the commission proposes to (1) increase the capacity of the juvenile justice system so that it can fulfil both its criminal and civil obligations and reduce the judges' power to impose preventive detention, (2) recreate a regional and local network of rehabilitation agencies, and (3) reduce the number of criminal sanctions to juvenile offenders. The article includes bibliographical footnotes; the commission's draft for a new law dealing with juvenile delinquents and endangered youth is appended.