Youth sex offenders in court: an analysis of judicial sentencing remarks

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Title Youth sex offenders in court: an analysis of judicial sentencing remarks
Author Bouhours, Brigitte; Daly, Kathleen
Journal Name Punishment and Society
Editor Jonathan Simon and Malcolm M Feeley
Year Published 2007
Place of publication London
Publisher SAGE Publications
Abstract Sexual offending by young people is increasingly viewed as a social problem that requires a strong response, but there is little research on the legal treatment of youthful sex offenders. On the one hand, these youths may be viewed as potential future sex offenders; on the other hand, because of their youth and immaturity they may be considered more reformable than adults and their behaviour more excusable. This article builds on an archival study of 385 sexual offence cases, which were disposed in court and by conference and formal caution, in South Australia from 1995 to 2001. Drawing on the transcripts of 55 cases sentenced by judges (i.e. the most legally serious offences), we analyse sentencing discourses and outcomes using both the explicit and latent content of the sentencing remarks. Specifically, we explore the judges' orientations and aims when sentencing adolescent sex offenders, how judges reconcile the seriousness of offending and the youthfulness of offenders and how they balance the competing interests of victims and offenders. Two major findings emerge. First, the cases fell in a three-way typology patterned by the victims' age, the context of the offence and the offender's criminal history. Second, our study suggests that while youth court judges consider sexual offending against children as very serious and are concerned by future offending, they do not adopt a punitive approach, but rather a therapeutic and rehabilitative perspective at sentencing.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
Publisher URI http://pun.sagepub.com/
Alternative URI http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1462474507080473
Copyright Statement Copyright 2007 SAGE Publications. This is the author-manuscript version of the paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
Volume 9
Issue Number 4
Edition 2007
Page from 371
Page to 394
ISSN 1462-4745
Date Accessioned 2008-02-20
Date Available 2008-09-25T01:12:53Z
Language en_AU
Research Centre Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance
Faculty Faculty of Arts
Subject Criminology
URI http://hdl.handle.net/10072/18961
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1

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