Youth justice is generating much debate and making ground in Europe with member countries taking different stances on the issue of young offenders. Despite the different approaches put forward at government level, in the majority of countries, education takes centre stage in terms of punishments dealt out to minors and young people.
The comparative analysis of such systems focuses on detention vs. programmes based on reintegrating offenders into society, showing that investing in this kind of reintegration is more effective in terms of reducing custody costs.
Systems that base their approach on detention generally have a high rate of reoffending and show increases in the length those already detained spend in custody. Providing inmates with an alternative to detention, although only hypothetical, supports their efforts towards reintegration. They are thus, at least in theory, given an opportunity to be reintegrated back into society, something which clearly leads to a reduction in costs in the mid and long term.
If an interactive, articulate and functional system is not in place amongst the institutions responsible, thus allowing the continuation of education and psychosocial approaches developed whilst detained, the results obtained will decrease their effectiveness. Therefore, a new approach has been called for by public institutions and NGOs (both active in the area of providing assistance after release) so that steps towards social inclusion initiated whilst detained are continued following release.
This session will open debates on specific legal systems for young people in various European countries, these debates taking place during the thematic workshops held on the second day of the conference.