Models of Today's Juvenile Justice

Models of Today's Juvenile Justice

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  • Date Submitted: 09/24/2009 8:09 AM
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Professor Ian O’Connor School of Social Work & Social Policy The University of Queensland.

Paper presented at the Australian Institute of Criminology Conference Juvenile Crime and Juvenile Justice, Towards 2000 and Beyond, Adelaide, 26 -27 June 1997

The preceding twenty years of juvenile justice law, policy and practice development could be likened to a tour group following an enthusiastic leader through a maze - following the leader up a series of dead ends, or finally, or alternatively following the twists and turns to successfully reach the centre of the maze. By reaching the centre of the maze you have successfully solved an intellectual challenge, but what else is achieved. Firstly you have travelled increasingly inwards and isolated yourself from the external environment - the maze is a puzzle- it bears no relationship to the perils of travel in the outside world. In terms of the juvenile justice system we have been led down the paths, sometimes we have rushed past the leader, as we have enthusiastically embraced the promise of a legislative solution to juvenile crime. As we have made the trek towards the centre of the maze the links between young people’s social and community environment have become increasingly separated from the juvenile justice system. And when we reach the centre of the maze what has been achieved - increasingly there is a recognition that the focus of the juvenile justice system on the misdeeds of the child to the exclusion of their context inevitably result in repeated offending behaviour. Similarly the best intentions of practitioner and theorists (eg Braithwaite) are being distorted by a punitive discourse which can never be satiated. There is one other characteristic of the maze which means it is an excellent metaphor for the juvenile justice policy and practice - the only way out of the maze is to retread the same path. This is not to say that much has not been learnt on the pathways but it...

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