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Title: Juvenile offenders, 'grave' crimes and the use of long-term detention : an examination of the law and issues of contemporary criminal justice
Author: Jowitt, Sharon
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines the use of long-term detention for juveniles convicted of certain grave and very serious crimes (excluding murder). The study incorporates a detailed exploration of the law together with other substantive issues of contemporary criminal and youth justice. Centrally, the research focuses on s.91 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 (formerly s. 53(2) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933). This law provides the higher courts with special powers to detain juveniles to longer periods of detention above the usual 24-month limit. This separate system of law and justice for the most serious juvenile offenders is subjected to rigorous theoretical and empirical scrutiny. At its heart, the study seeks to explain the mechanisms and ramifications of sentencing juveniles to long periods of detention. The cumulative research findings are based on a thorough review of the literature combined with an extensive fieldwork project undertaken at six selected young offender institutions. Interviews were conducted with 142 young prisoners (aged 15-21) convicted of violent and other very serious crimes and sentenced to long periods of detention. From a detailed analysis of key index offence and offender characteristics, the study examines the experiences of the respondents from the pre-conviction stage of the legal process and following sentencing. The varying levels of offence-gravity are considered within the context of contemporary sentencing theory and the use of proportionate sentences. In addition, the experiences of a remand to prison custody, trial and sentencing at the crown court, and detention in a young offender institution are described and critically evaluated. The research findings juxtapose the nature and extent of youthful offender vulnerability with the commission of very serious crimes and a system of justice most usually reserved for adult offenders. The tension between these elements represents one of the most complex challenges for contemporary criminal justice and society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available