Edinburgh Research Explorer

Youth Justice? The Impact of System Contact on Desistance from Offending

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEscape Routes
Subtitle of host publicationContemporary Perspectives on Life After Punishment
EditorsStephen Farrall, Richard Sparks, Shadd Maruna, Mike Hough
PublisherRoutledge
Pages81-106
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)9780415550345
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Abstract

This chapter assesses the effectiveness of the Scottish model of youth justice in the context of a growing body of international research that is challenging the 'evidence base' of policy in many western jurisdictions. Drawing on findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, it shows how labelling processes within agency working cultures serve to recycle certain categories of children into the youth justice system, whereas other serious offenders escape the tutelage of the formal system altogether. The deeper a child penetrates the formal system, the less likely he or she is to desist from offending. The article concludes that the key to reducing offending lies in minimal intervention and maximum diversion. Although the Scottish system should be better placed than most other western systems at delivering such an agenda (owing to its founding commitment to decriminalization and destigmatization), as currently implemented it appears to be failing many young people.

    Research areas

  • labelling, Edinburgh Study, youth justice, desistance, welfarism, ESYTC

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