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date: 27 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Youth justice in Germany covers juveniles and young adult offenders from 14 to 20 years of age. The legal approach since the enactment of a first Juvenile Justice Act (JJA) in 1923 has combined justice and welfare models. Major law reforms in 1953, 1990, and 2008 emphasized diversion and “educational” and restorative justice measures. The sentencing practice remained moderate despite problems with increasing rates of violent offending during the 1990s. For the last 15 years, juvenile crime rates, particularly violent offences, and the youth population in prisons have decreased (–20 percent since 2005). The practice of diversion (70 percent of all cases) has proved to be effective in preventing reoffending. Youth imprisonment is used only as a last resort (2 percent of all cases of juvenile and young adult offenders). No “punitive turn” can be seen in legislation and sentencing practice in Germany.

Keywords: youth justice in Germany, juvenile criminal procedure, diversion, youth imprisonment, young adult offenders, restorative justice, youth justice policy

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