Experiencing Youth Justice: Process, Meaning and Legitimacy

Dr Nicola Carr and Dr Siobhán McAlister (QUB)

Reform of the youth justice system, including the wide incorporation of restorative justice approaches, was a central component of the Criminal Justice Review (2000). Following the devolution of policing and justice powers to the Assembly, the Youth Justice Review (2011) made a series of recommendations for further reforms. These included proposals for the introduction of a statutory time limit in youth cases to tackle avoidable delay. Strengthening legitimacy and advancing rights-based approaches are key themes underpinning the recommendations of Youth Justice Review (2011). Young people’s views of justice within the system are critical to our understanding of how such aims can be achieved. This presentation is based on findings from a longitudinal qualitative study exploring young people’s experiences of transitions into and from custody in the Juvenile Justice Centre. Using a life-history approach young people’s experiences of justice at various stages of the criminal justice process and in the wider context of their lives is explored. Key issues such as social contexts, legitimacy and perceptions of fairness are highlighted and the implications of this for system reform are critically examined.

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