Human rights and youth justice reform in England and Wales: A systemic analysis

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Journal Article
Criminology and Criminal Justice, 2018, 18 (4), pp. 405 - 430
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© The Author(s) 2017. This article examines critically the persistently antagonistic relationship – across the past quarter-century – between the provisions of international human rights instruments and the nature and direction of youth justice reform in England and Wales. It introduces the core provisions of the human rights framework that pertain to youth justice and it sketches the nature and direction of policy reform over the 25-year period under scrutiny (1991–2016). To obtain a comprehensive sense of the relationship between human rights and youth justice reform in the jurisdiction, it applies a detailed systemic analysis; beginning at the point at which criminal responsibility is formally imputed and progressing through each stage of the youth justice system, up to the point where the child might ultimately be deprived of her/his liberty. By taking a ‘long-view’ of youth justice reform and by adopting a systemic end-to-end analysis of the human rights–youth justice interface, the article presents an analytical account of both change (policy reforms) and continuity (the enduring nature of human rights violations).
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