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Article

Access_open Characteristics of Young Adults Sentenced with Juvenile Sanctions in the Netherlands

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2020
Keywords young adult offenders, juvenile sanctions for young adults, juvenile criminal law, psychosocial immaturity
Authors Lise J.C. Prop, André M. Van der Laan, Charlotte S. Barendregt e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    Since 1 April 2014, young adults aged 18 up to and including 22 years can be sentenced with juvenile sanctions in the Netherlands. This legislation is referred to as ‘adolescent criminal law’ (ACL). An important reason for the special treatment of young adults is their over-representation in crime. The underlying idea of ACL is that some young adult offenders are less mature than others. These young adults may benefit more from pedagogically oriented juvenile sanctions than from the deterrent focus of adult sanctions. Little is known, however, about the characteristics of the young adults sentenced with juvenile sanctions since the implementation of ACL. The aim of this study is to gain insight into the demographic, criminogenic and criminal case characteristics of young adult offenders sentenced with juvenile sanctions in the first year after the implementation of ACL. A cross-sectional study was conducted using a juvenile sanction group and an adult sanction group. Data on 583 criminal cases of young adults, sanctioned from 1 April 2014 up to March 2015, were included. Data were obtained from the Public Prosecution Service, the Dutch Probation Service and Statistics Netherlands. The results showed that characteristics indicating problems across different domains were more prevalent among young adults sentenced with juvenile sanctions. Furthermore, these young adults committed a greater number of serious offences compared with young adults who were sentenced with adult sanctions. The findings of this study provide support for the special treatment of young adult offenders in criminal law as intended by ACL.


Lise J.C. Prop
Research and Documentation Centre (WODC), Ministry of Justice and Security, Den Haag, the Netherlands.

André M. Van der Laan
Research and Documentation Centre (WODC), Ministry of Justice and Security, Den Haag, the Netherlands.

Charlotte S. Barendregt
Health and Youth Care Inspectorate, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Chijs Van Nieuwenhuizen
GGzE, Centre for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Eindhoven, the Netherlands and Scientific Center for Care & Welfare (Tranzo),Tilburg University, Tilburg, the Netherlands.
Article

Access_open Giving Children a Voice in Court?

Age Boundaries for Involvement of Children in Civil Proceedings and the Relevance of Neuropsychological Insights

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2020
Keywords age boundaries, right to be heard, child’s autonomy, civil proceedings, neuropsychology
Authors Mariëlle Bruning and Jiska Peper
AbstractAuthor's information

    In the last decade neuropsychological insights have gained influence with regard to age boundaries in legal procedures, however, in Dutch civil law no such influence can be distinguished. Recently, voices have been raised to improve children’s legal position in civil law: to reflect upon the minimum age limit of twelve years for children to be invited to be heard in court and the need for children to have a stronger procedural position.
    In this article, first the current legal position of children in Dutch law and practice will be analysed. Second, development of psychological constructs relevant for family law will be discussed in relation to underlying brain developmental processes and contextual effects. These constructs encompass cognitive capacity, autonomy, stress responsiveness and (peer) pressure.
    From the first part it becomes clear that in Dutch family law, there is a tortuous jungle of age limits, exceptions and limitations regarding children’s procedural rights. Until recently, the Dutch government has been reluctant to improve the child’s procedural position in family law. Over the last two years, however, there has been an inclination towards further reflecting on improvements to the child’s procedural rights, which, from a children’s rights perspective, is an important step forward. Relevant neuropsychological insights support improvements for a better realisation of the child’s right to be heard, such as hearing children younger than twelve years of age in civil court proceedings.


Mariëlle Bruning
Professor of Child Law at Leiden Law Faculty, Leiden University.

Jiska Peper
Assistant professor in the Developmental and Educational Psychology unit of the Institute of Psychology at Leiden University.
Article

Access_open Safeguarding the Dynamic Legal Position of Children: A Matter of Age Limits?

Reflections on the Fundamental Principles and Practical Application of Age Limits in Light of International Children’s Rights Law

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2020
Keywords age limits, dynamic legal position, children’s rights, maturity, evolving capacities
Authors Stephanie Rap, Eva Schmidt and Ton Liefaard
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article a critical reflection upon age limits applied in the law is provided, in light of the tension that exists in international children’s rights law between the protection of children and the recognition of their evolving autonomy. The main research question that will be addressed is to what extent the use of (certain) age limits is justified under international children’s rights law. The complexity of applying open norms and theoretically underdeveloped concepts as laid down in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, related to the development and evolving capacities of children as rights holders, will be demonstrated. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child struggles to provide comprehensive guidance to states regarding the manner in which the dynamic legal position of children should be applied in practice. The inconsistent application of age limits that govern the involvement of children in judicial procedures provides states leeway in granting children autonomy, potentially leading to the establishment of age limits based on inappropriate – practically, politically or ideologically motivated – grounds.


Stephanie Rap
Stephanie Rap is assistant professor in children’s rights at the Department of Child Law, Leiden Law School, the Netherlands.

Eva Schmidt
Eva Schmidt is PhD candidate at the Department of Child Law, Leiden Law School, the Netherlands.

Ton Liefaard
Ton Liefaard is Vice-Dean of Leiden Law School and holds the UNICEF Chair in Children’s Rights at Leiden University, Leiden Law School, the Netherlands.
Article

Access_open Juveniles’ Right to Counsel during Police Interrogations: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of a Youth-Specific Approach, with a Particular Focus on the Netherlands

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2014
Keywords legal representation, counsel, juvenile justice, police interrogations, children’s rights
Authors Prof. Dr. Ton Liefaard Ph.D. LL.M and Yannick van den Brink
AbstractAuthor's information

    The right to counsel of juveniles at the stage of police interrogations has gained significant attention since the Salduz ruling of the European Court on Human Rights in 2008. The legislative and policy developments that have taken place since then and that are still ongoing – both on a regional (European) and domestic (Dutch) level – reveal a shared belief that juvenile suspects must be awarded special protection in this phase of the criminal justice proceedings. This calls for a youth-specific approach as fundamentally different from the common approach for adults. At the same time, there seems to be ambivalence concerning the justification and concrete implications of such a youth-specific approach. This article aims to clarify the underlying rationale and significance of a youth specific approach to the right to counsel at the stage of police interrogations on the basis of an interdisciplinary analysis of European Court on Human Rights case law, international children’s rights standards and relevant developmental psychological insights. In addition, this article aims to position this right of juveniles in conflict with the law in the particular context of the Dutch juvenile justice system and provide concrete recommendations to the Dutch legislator.


Prof. Dr. Ton Liefaard Ph.D. LL.M
Prof. Dr. T. Liefaard is Professor of Children’s Rights (UNICEF Chair) at Leiden Law School, Department of Child Law; t.liefaard@law.leidenuniv.nl.

Yannick van den Brink
Y.N. van den Brink, LL.M, MA, is PhD researcher at Leiden Law School, Department of Child Law; y.n.van.den.brink@law.leidenuniv.nl.

Willem-Jan Verhoeven Ph.D.
Erasmus School of Law, Department of Criminology, Erasmus University Rotterdam.
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