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date: 23 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the youth justice system in England and Wales since its inception at the beginning of the twentieth century. It describes its institutional structures, and processes, and major policy trends. It also discusses tensions between welfarist and punitive responses to youth crime and the associated blurring of boundaries between childhood and adulthood, criminal and civil proceedings, social care and criminal justice. Beyond this, the chapter considers the net-widening and criminalizing tendencies of early twenty-first century managerialism, the increased severity of sentencing responses at the “heavier” end of the justice system, and the counter-narratives of restorative justice and diversion. Finally, the chapter reflects on reasons for the recent decline in the number of young people entering the system and being sentenced to custody and speculates on the future shape and character of youth justice in light of devolutionary pulls and political interests in cost-cutting and marketization of services.

Keywords: youth justice, sentencing policy, welfare and punishment, restorative justice, diversion, cost-reduction, marketization

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