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Public Opinion, Politics and the Response to Youth Crime (From New Response to Youth Crime, P 341-379, 2010, David J. Smith, ed. - See NCJ-232918)

NCJ Number
Trevor Jones
Date Published
39 pages
This chapter assesses the feasibility of England and Wales shift away from 'populist punitive' responses to youth justice policy and towards more balanced evidence-led approaches.
The purpose of this chapter is to consider the political possibilities for a significant change in the direction of policy responses to youth crime and antisocial behavior in England and Wales. This discussion is based on the premise that in most respects, the political constraints on progressive developments in the specific field of youth justice are similar to those regarding penal policy as a whole. The chapter addresses three sets of questions, each of which corresponds to a section within the chapter: (1) what is the evidence about public attitudes to crime and punishment in general, and youth crime and youth justice in particular; is public opinion about crime as punitive as it first appears; (2) what factors shape both punitive public/political opinion and the shift towards harsh penal policies; why are politicians more likely in some polities than others to be drawn to expressive, populist responses to youth crime rather than more rational evidence-led approaches; and (3) what are the political prospects for a radically changed approach in England and Wales; what should be the role of public opinion and of other sources of influence in shaping youth justice policy? Notes and references