Law and Justice Around the World
Prof. Andrew Novak
The challenge of juvenile delinquency
International minimum standards
Global perspectives on youth and crime
Brief introduction to model countries
Examples from Japan and China
David Dow is a law professor at the
University of Houston and a death
penalty defense lawyer.
What is the link with juvenile justice?
The challenge of
Delinquency: Crime committed by a juvenile.
The tension that exists in the adult criminal justice system
between rehabilitation and punishment exists in the
juvenile justice system as well.
Parens patriae: State obliged to serve as guardian over
In the United States today, punishment is the predominant
rationale, and youth may be incarcerated (even life
imprisonment) and tried in adult courts.
The world’s juvenile justice systems exist on a spectrum
between a purely welfare-based model and a purelyjustice based model.
These differ as to formality of the procedure, the role of lawyers
and prosecutors, incarceration, etc.
Finland and New Zealand are more “welfare” models, while the
U.S. and U.K. are more “justice” models.
Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990):
Most ratified human rights treaty
Due process required in juvenile proceedings
Prohibition on corporal and capital punishment
Legal aid required for juveniles
Minimal protections in detention
Non-binding international guidelines
Beijing Rules (1985): Guidance for countries with
separate juvenile justice systems.
Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of
Their Liberty (1990): Standards for detention
Riyadh Guidelines (1990): Focus on communitybased prevention of juvenile delinquency.
Global perspectives on youth
Child-rearing, supervision, and education is
a highly culturally-contingent phenomenon
that varies widely around the world
In societies that are conservative, strongly
communitarian, and have a high rate of
compliance with social norms generally
have lower youth crime rates.
Egypt: Low rates of alcohol use, firearm
possession, drug use. Conservative, familycentered society create some social control.
Today, however juvenile crime is highly
politicized, and youth have taken part in Arab
Spring-related crime and terrorism.
Brief introduction to the model
System most similar to the United States
Ages 14 to 18, and serious crimes by children
between 10 and 14 are prosecuted in juvenile court
Homicide and serious crimes tried in adult courts
Anti-social behavior order can “punish” youth for
Like the UK, formal justice-based process
Procurator involved in prosecution before a juvenile
judge; parents required to attend hearings
Some alternatives to incarceration, such as
Model countries (Continued)
Unlike UK and France, falls clearly on the side
of rehabilitation/welfare-based system
Older age of criminal responsibility (14) and of
involvement in juvenile justice system (20)
Virtually all juvenile offenders are tried in
juvenile court rather than adult court
No separate juvenile justice system
Corporal punishment commonly used; judges
have wide discretion
Placed in separate juvenile prisons, where they
undergo religious-based rehabilitation
Society that places emphasis on subtle social
relationships, shame, politeness
Low crime rates, including low youth crime
Education is academically rigorous, which leaves behind
students who do poorly in school and makes them
susceptible to delinquency
Policing is personal and community-based, and police
play the role of juvenile counselor
Parameters of youth crime
Juvenile justice system reaches “pre-delinquents” who
have not yet committed a crime, for truancy, disobedience
Youth may be funneled into the system for control
Because of cultural context (value on relationships), even
petty youth crime gives a sense of social dislocation
Follows the “justice” model more than Japan does
Political nature of justice: combination of
education, discipline, and labor used to treat youth
Parameters of juvenile justice
Chinese state punishes misbehavior by youth as well
as crime, such as running away, truancy
Youth may be sent to centers where they face rigid
discipline and education
Rehabilitation with mandatory labor is typical
punishment, but traditional incarceration also used
Are there any ways to organize juvenile
justice systems other than age?
Why is rehabilitation predominant in
juvenile justice, moreso than adult justice?
In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court found life
imprisonment without parole for juveniles to
be unconstitutional. Why do you think this
What are the risks of underpunishing or
overpunishing youth delinquency?