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Pre-sentence Reports, Magisterial Discourse and Agency in the Youth Courts in England and Wales

NCJ Number
Punishment and Society Volume: 12 Issue: 3 Dated: July 2010 Pages: 348-366
Jo Phoenix
Date Published
July 2010
19 pages
This article examines the relationship between magisterial agency in decisionmaking and youth justice polices risk management.
This article draws on interviews with Youth Court magistrates to examine if and how discourses, strategies and technologies of risk governance have affected Youth Court magistrates in England and Wales. The aim of the article is to detail the complex relationship between magisterial agency in decisionmaking and youth justice policies which focus on risk control and management. The article demonstrates that, contrary to what might be assumed from the youth and risk governance theoretical literature, Youth Offending Team risk assessments form only one part of the information used by magistrates to explain young people's presence in courts. This article concludes that magisterial decisionmaking is framed not by formal, expert assessments of risk, but by magistrates' claims that they are 'knowing outsiders', who through judicious use of information presented to them and their own life experiences are able to make objective judgments about both the risk assessments authored by Youth Offending Teams and the young lawbreakers before them. Notes and references (Published Abstract)