chapter  14
26 Pages

Debating the Ups and Downs of Youth Justice

ByPeter Squires

In years to come, 2013 may come to represent a critical turning point in criminal justice – a time when the hitherto dominant and expansionist pressures of ‘criminalisation’ and ‘punitiveness’ began to wane, and new balances began to be struck between public and social policy in its fullest sense and criminal justice policy in particular (Bateman, 2012). I say 2013 may come to represent this turning point because, in both a very real and a rather metaphorical sense, it is fair to say that ‘the jury’ is still out on this one. Even so there are signs, and we should take them seriously and try to

work out what they mean. In that sense, the aims of this chapter are threefold:

■ it poses questions about what might be called the ‘proper scope’ of criminalisation, or, how far the state should rely upon the power to criminalise and to punish? How much criminalisation is consistent with the demands of social justice?;

■ it explores how and why this ‘explosion’ of criminalisation occurred in the fi rst place;

■ it considers the extent to which this apparent ‘excess of criminalisation’ might now be starting to recede, while outlining some of the consequences of its passing.