Measures involving depriving young offenders of their freedom must take into account that, once these individuals have been placed in offenders’ centres, the main aim is to reintegrate them back into society. Rehabilitation for young people is tailored to each individual and is based on an assessment of their individual developmental needs, taking into account age, health, family history, personality and behavioural traits, individual capacities, level of education, causes and reason for committing the offence, etc.
In order to organise the detention of minors, all spatial-temporal considerations must be taken into account in order to promote the biological, physiological and social development of offenders, who are still at a very young age. Therefore, prison authorities must act in an appropriate manner in order to counteract the influence of non-satisfactory educational institutions based on traditional educational approaches.
A key objective where significant progress has been made at a European level is the idea of young offenders’ institutions going beyond the model of an isolated institution, becoming a place where the interests of the community are fundamental and being a source of original ideas, as well as a place where appropriate and effective restorative action is taken.
Within this context, it is clearly fundamental that the rights of children and their dignity are respected, but also that the focus is on these individuals, taking into account their personal needs and capacities. Thus, the majority of European countries have laid the foundations for transforming young offenders’ centres into educational communities which do not focus on isolation but on protection – on helping and supporting the correction of educational and moral shortcomings. This community must be a safe environment in social and moral terms and an environment in which the attitudes and behaviour of the offenders improve, leading to responsibility and avoiding relapses.
This debate aims to highlight some of the most successful models in Europe for working with young people, placing emphasis on projects of significant social impact in terms of innovative approaches for the detention of young offenders.