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Politics of Juvenile Crime

NCJ Number
J Pitts
Date Published
182 pages
In Britain over the past 30 years, governments have used their responses to juvenile crime to demonstrate either their reforming zeal or their political toughness.
This has resulted in a struggle between an optimistic welfare and treatment lobby, which strives to alleviate the ultimate causes of juvenile crime, and a pessimistic justice lobby, which strives only to manage delinquents more effectively by reasserting the link between crime and punishment. The theories underlying these approaches, their historical background, and the factors associated with their ascendency and decline are discussed. The consequences of the conflict between these two opposing approaches to juvenile crime for the juvenile justice system are outlined, with a particular emphasis on the attempts by social welfare professionals and penal reformers to create alternatives to imprisonment for children and young people. It is argued that the emphasis on retribution is social policy and professional practice today has arisen from the transformation of an economic crisis into a moral crusade. This ideological shift has set the current paradigm for criminological research, the boundaries of public policy, and the limits of professional practice. The impact of this shift on the inner-city unemployed is discussed. It also has resulted in policies that fail to address the realities of crime and victimization. Directions for change are suggested. Approximately 160 references and index (Publisher Summary Modified)