In line with an approach which is less negative in terms of the development of young people, measures which do not entail depriving individuals of freedom are the most common legal penalties given to young offenders in Europe.

The detainment and release of young people into the community and the enforcement of legal measures responsible for strengthening community ties within a context of support, undoubtedly contribute to the prevention of criminal behaviour.

Just as the level of involvement in the reintegration process is an indicator of the rehabilitation of young offenders, there are ways of encouraging them to mend their ways by providing stimulating motivation for them to change and take an active role in community life. Action must be taken on an individual basis (tailored to each offender) and in accordance with their age and the physical and physiological developmental phase they are going through.

The diversity of penalties involving detention given to offenders in various European countries and the particularities of implementation are a rich source for inspiration and institutional progress for the work of those making decisions within the legal system, as well as other professionals involved.

Another important aspect to ensure the quality of the work carried out is the constant training of legal personnel, magistrates, probation aides, and other professionals who come into direct contact with young offenders. Therefore, it is very interesting to look into ways of training those responsible for coordinating measures involving the detainment of young people.

The debate centres on identifying the most effective ways of approaching crimes committed by minors and young people, with arguments focusing on keeping them in the community and not in specialist rehabilitation institutions.


Mr. Luis Rabasa
Spanish Judge
Mr. Pedro das Neves
IPS-Qualify Just
Mrs. Ramona Delida Szikszay
Court for Minors and Family Brasov
Mrs. Fiona Abbot
Magistrates Association UK


  • What is the role of the courts in promoting a justice system which supports young people?

  • What are the most important factors when handing out penalties?

  • What are the most effective punitive measures for minors/young people?

  • Should the magistrates be the first to educate young offenders?

  • To what point is it necessary for courts to specialise in processing cases involving minors?

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