chapter  4
39 Pages

Responding to youth crime

ByJohn Graham

Towards the end of the twentieth century, there was a brief moment in the history of youth justice when ideology and political self-interest were subordinated to a more rational and evidence-based response to the age-old problem of youth crime. During this brief period, the notion that arresting, prosecuting, convicting and incarcerating young offenders was the answer to youth crime was turned on its head leaving the juvenile courts (as they were then called) and prisons half empty. A consensus emerged between practitioners, policy makers and academics as politicians took a back seat. Savings to the exchequer were considerable, but the moment was, in historic terms, fleeting. By the beginning of the twentyfirst century, the seeds of change had already been sown and, following a single, tragic event that shook the nation’s sense of itself to the core, the political status quo was restored.