Important research focuses on why thousands of young men and women join youth gangs, but much can be learned from looking at a single life in order to understand ways individuals manage to leave gang life behind them, in this instance by Christian conversion. This life story, told in an effort to decipher its structure and its sources of efficacy, is of Julio, a born-again, ex-gang member who grew up in Los Angeles, California but has since been deported back to Guatemala. His story provides a window into Christianity’s relationship to hemispheric security by exploring the growing world of Central American gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio Dieciocho (18th Street) from the perspective of gang ministry. Julio’s story joins a growing conversation about Central American gangs and the efficacy of Christian conversion.
Case Study: Black Cannabis Dealers in a White Welfare State Race, Politics, and Street Capital in Norway
An ethnographic study of a group of young black men dealing cannabis at a drug scene called The River in Oslo demonstrates that accumulation and use of street capital can be seen as responses to processes of social and economic exclusion. In Norway, as elsewhere, many immigrant youths are marginalized by ethnic discrimination, racism, lack of education and job opportunities, and immigration policy. Street capital is a means to gain respect, status, and money. The concept is inspired by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and highlights how street culture becomes embodied and emphasizes the practical rationality involved when marginalized youths become involved in crime. Street capital is upheld by and embedded in gangster stories, but the young men also see themselves as victims. There are ongoing shifts between gangster- and oppression discourses; neither represents the “true story” of these men. Ethnographic study of street dealers’ language use demonstrates the complex relationship between street culture and a benevolent Nordic welfare state.
Michael Tonry and Colleen Chambers
In juvenile systems, countries vary considerably in how they define the jurisdiction of adult and juvenile courts and where they draw the lines between them. The starkest difference lies in the jurisdiction of the ages. This article provides an overview of current knowledge about national differences in juvenile justice systems. It describes formal structural differences between systems and provides brief depictions of systems representing importantly different models: the English juvenile court model with its heavy emphasis on crime reduction, the German youth criminal court model with its emphasis on social integration of young offenders, the Scandinavian non-juvenile-court model, and the New Zealand conferencing model. It reveals immediate outcomes in terms of the use of confinement and the frequency of transfers to adult courts. Finally, it makes an attempt to offer a number of observations about comparative advantages and disadvantages of different approaches.
Uberto Gatti and Alfredo Verde
This article provides an overview of juvenile justice in Italy. It begins by charting the birth and evolution of the Italian juvenile justice system, from the establishment of juvenile courts in 1934 to the expansion of the administrative sector after 1956. It then turns to juvenile justice after the decentralization and reform of the country’s welfare system and the changes produced by the introduction of a new juvenile justice procedure after 1989. It also examines the penal code provisions relating to the arrest and detention of minors, with particular emphasis on judicial pardon, acquittal on the grounds of inability to understand and to form intent, dismissal on the grounds of the insignificance of the offense, suspension of the trial and imposition of a probation order, and custodial sentence. The article concludes with a discussion of some of the trends and patterns of youth crime in Italy.
The juvenile justice system in Poland is an example of a paternalistic and welfare approach to juvenile justice. Special, nonpenal responsibility for juveniles applies for those between 13 and 17 years. For younger juveniles, special measures of exclusively educational and care character are possible. Indeterminate measures are child welfare oriented without any justice considerations. This includes the correctional center imposed in cases of most serious misbehavior. Waiver of juvenile jurisdiction is never automatic or mandatory and happens very seldom. Jurisdiction over all juvenile cases have special courts, and juvenile judges enjoy broad discretionary powers. Procedure used in juvenile cases constitutes a mix of criminal and civil procedure. One of the most hotly debated issues constitutes lack of sufficient procedural safeguards enjoyed by adult offenders. Despite this, recent amendments retain basic features of the system, although they also attempt to regulate better procedural guarantees of juveniles.
Robert Brenneman and Adriana García
In recent decades, youth street gangs have captured the attention of the media both inside and outside the region. Particularly in the northern Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, gangs underwent a transformation frompandillastomaras, and this transformation was fueled in part by the deportation of tens of thousands of immigrant gang youth from the United States. Presidential elections have been won and lost on the basis of promises about gang violence reduction. But much of the debate about gangs is based on ambiguous and often conflicting claims. This essay seeks to examine what we know about the Central American gangs, what we do not know about them, and how current research can and should shape attempts to reduce gang violence in northern Central America.
David Shannon, Olof Bäckman, Felipe Estrada, and Anders Nilsson
This chapter describes trends in crime among Swedish youth on the basis of both official statistics and alternative indicators, noting a decline over time both in the general level of youth involvement in crime and in the size of the gender gap, particularly in official statistics. The system of reactions to youth crime in Sweden is described, together with central reforms implemented over the past 15 years and trends in sanctioning practice since the mid-1990s. Returning to the issue of the declining gender gap, the chapter concludes by presenting new data on both justice system sanctions and childhood resources and by discussing what these data might contribute to our understanding and interpretation of the declining sex differences in officially recorded crime.
This essay provides an overview and analysis of juvenile justice in Australia. It describes the historical background to the establishment of a separate juvenile justice system and the contemporary legislative framework for juvenile justice. The essay examines the most prevalent offenses for which young people come into contact with juvenile justice agencies. the role of the police, the administration of diversionary schemes, and the role of the children’s court are discussed. Particular attention is paid to the sentencing of young people and the various sanctions available to the court, including community-based orders and detention. The longer-term trends in sentencing, particularly the use of detention, are also analyzed. The essay concludes with a consideration of key issues in juvenile justice, including policing and public order, the use of pretrial detention (remand), racialization and the overrepresentation of Indigenous youth, and the importance of human rights
Susyan Jou, Lennon Chang, and Bill Hebenton
China’s well-documented and rapid socioeconomic changes, including largely unmanaged rural to urban migration, form an important pressure on development of an adequate juvenile justice system. This chapter identifies and describes key normative principles that are said to underpin contemporary juvenile justice in China. The development of the modern legal framework is also elucidated. In later sections we identify and analyze the regulatory and organizational limits to the implementation of such principles in everyday practice. We argue that the principles stand as part of professional discourse but remain a largely discursive phenomenon—impinging to a limited extent on the reality of juvenile justice processing in contemporary China.
Loraine Gelsthorpe and Caroline Lanskey
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.
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.
Juvenile justice systems are not static constructions but are highly dependent on the cultural, historical, and political environment. Therefore, analyses cannot provide a complete picture of them without explaining the effects of these to the development of the system. To encourage precise understanding on the main issues and institutions of the contemporary Hungarian juvenile justice system, this essay uses developmental and cultural perspectives, focusing on the introduction of formal law and legal practice. In this framework the author explains special characteristics of the Hungarian system, such as the traditional two-tiered justice system, the types and practice of deprivation of liberty of juveniles, the development of the consideration of culpability and maturity of delinquent children, and the limited overlap with child welfare. Beyond historical explanations, the author provides a contemporary evaluation of this development and points out the weakest areas with respect to international children’s rights.
Policies in Israel retain the traditional view that juvenile delinquents should be treated and rehabilitated. These policies are driven by changing rationalities, norms, and values, which are socially and culturally contextualized. There has been an overarching ideology characterizing the sociolegal response to juvenile delinquency in Israel over time, with a welfare orientation that has been modified according to ideological influences and practical considerations. At the same time, informal, needs-oriented, and child-centered principles have continued to be adopted. This essay provides a review of the organization and operation of the system with regard to juvenile delinquency in Israel. It locates policy developments taking place in Israel within a wider sociopolitical context.
Tom Ellis and Akira Kyo
This chapter provides the first comprehensive overview of Japanese youth justice, locating it within wider conceptual considerations of youth justice, such as welfare versus justice and penal populism, before outlining its historical development and questioning its uniqueness. It discusses the contested notion pre-delinquency and its net widening potential and its place in the wider trends in Japanese youth crime. The study critically assesses the overall organization, administration, and impact of the Family Court (equivalent to youth or juvenile courts) and summarizes recent developments in youth crime policy. Although the Family Court is at the center of youth justice, it involves many social welfare elements. Despite the increasingly punitive rhetoric, policy, and legislation for juveniles in Japan, there is no evidence that more juvenile offenders are being committed to the adult courts. Overall, we found a clear precedence of social welfare over criminal policy considerations.