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Conditions for sustainable decarceration strategies for young offenders

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Between 1978 and 1992 the number of juvenile offenders aged under 17 in England and Wales who were removed from home under sentence and sent to institutions such as detention centres, borstals, youth custody institutions or residential Community Homes with Education fell from 14,000 to 1,800.

This thesis documents how this significant decarceration came about, and why it has been given little attention in the criminological literature, placing it in context of developments in juvenile justice legislation and practice between 1965 and 1996 and theories of policy change. It suggests that the key development was the funding of charity and voluntary sector organisations to provide Intensive Intermediate Treatment programmes to juvenile courts as an alternative to custody, and the development of a small group of practitioners willing to act as campaigning advocates for young offenders in court. Interviews with key politicians, civil servants, academics and practitioners from this period are used to explore these trends in more detail, and consideration is given to the respective roles of the Home Office and the Department of Health and Social Security and the tensions between them over responsibility for young offenders. The development is then situated within theories and examples of decarceration, deinstitutionalization, abolitionism and reductionism, drawing on attempts to close institutions or to reduce institutionalization in the fields of youth justice, mental health and learning difficulties in the UK and other countries. Alternative explanations of what happened in juvenile justice in England and Wales are considered and challenged. Conclusions are then drawn as to the conditions that are necessary for any decarceration strategy to be successful and sustainable.



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APA reference for this document


Reference :   Jones, D. W. (2012). Conditions for sustainable decarceration strategies for young offenders. PhD thesis, London:  The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).  Available at


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Download this file (Jones_Conditions_for_Sustainable_Decarceration_Strategies_for_Young.pdf)Jones_Conditions_for_Sustainable_Decarceration_Strategies_for_Young.pdf Jones, D. W. (2012). Conditions for sustainable decarceration strategies for young offenders. PhD thesis, London: The London School of Economics and Political Science
Last Updated on Monday, 03 September 2012 13:57  

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