The Politics of Juvenile Crime by John Pitts
Juvenile crime is a highly contentious area of public policy. In Britain over the past thirty years governments have used their responses to juvenile crime to demonstrate either their reforming zeal or their political toughness. This has resulted in a struggle between an optimistic welfare' lobby, which strives to alleviate the ultimate causes of juvenile crime, and a pessimistic justice' lobby, which endeavours only to manage deviants more effectively by reasserting the link between crime and punishment. John Pitts outlines the consequences of this conflict for the juvenile justice system, focusing particularly on the attempts by social welfare professionals and penal reformers to create alternatives to imprisonment for children and young people. The emphasis on retribution that is current in social policy and professional practice today, he argues, arises from a transformation of the economic crisis into a moral crusade. This ideological shift has set the paradigm for criminological research, the boundaries for public policy and the limits of professional practice. Tracing the impact of this shift on the beleaguered residents of the unemployed ghetto of the inner city, he reveals the failure of current policies to address the harsh realities of crime and victimisation. Finally he suggests directions for new initiatives and considers alliances which could be constructed to effect change.