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Article

Access_open Age Limits in Youth Justice

A Comparative and Conceptual Analysis

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2020
Keywords youth justice, age limits, minimum age of criminal responsibility, age of criminal majority, legal comparison
Authors Jantien Leenknecht, Johan Put and Katrijn Veeckmans
AbstractAuthor's information

    In each youth justice system, several age limits exist that indicate what type of reaction can and may be connected to the degree of responsibility that a person can already bear. Civil liability, criminal responsibility and criminal majority are examples of concepts on which age limits are based, but whose definition and impact is not always clear. Especially as far as the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) is concerned, confusion exists in legal doctrine. This is apparent from the fact that international comparison tables often show different MACRs for the same country. Moreover, the international literature often seems to define youth justice systems by means of a lower and upper limit, whereas such a dual distinction is too basic to comprehend the complex multilayer nature of the systems. This contribution therefore maps out and conceptually clarifies the different interpretations and consequences of the several age limits that exist within youth justice systems. To that extent, the age limits of six countries are analysed: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Northern Ireland. This legal comparison ultimately leads to a proposal to establish a coherent conceptual framework on age limits in youth justice.


Jantien Leenknecht
Jantien Leenknecht is PhD Fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) at KU Leuven, Institute of Social Law and Leuven Institute of Criminology.

Johan Put
Johan Put is Full Professor at KU Leuven, Institute of Social Law and Leuven Institute of Criminology.

Katrijn Veeckmans
Katrijn Veeckmans is PhD Fellow at KU Leuven, Institute of Social Law and Leuven Institute of Criminology.
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 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 Legal Constraints on the Indeterminate Control of ‘Dangerous’ Sex Offenders in the Community: The English Perspective

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2016
Keywords Dangerous, sex offenders, human rights, community supervision, punishment
Authors Nicola Padfield
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article explores the legal constraints imposed on the rising number of so-called ‘dangerous’ sex offenders in England and Wales, in particular once they have been released from prison into the community. The main methods of constraint are strict licence conditions, Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements and civil protective orders such as Sexual Harm Prevention Orders. ‘Control’ in the community is thus widespread, but is difficult to assess whether it is either effective or necessary without a great deal more research and analysis. Post-sentence ‘punishment’ has been largely ignored by both academic lawyers and criminologists. The article concludes that financial austerity might prove to be as important as the human rights agenda in curbing the disproportionate use of powers of control.


Nicola Padfield
Nicola Padfield, MA, Dip Crim, DES, Reader in Criminal and Penal Justice, University of Cambridge. I thank Michiel van der Wolf for involving me in this project and for his many useful insights and comments.
Article

Access_open Legal Constraints on the Indeterminate Control of ‘Dangerous’ Sex Offenders in the Community: The German Perspective

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2016
Keywords Supervision, twin track system, principle of proportionality, human rights, violent and sex offenders
Authors Bernd-Dieter Meier
AbstractAuthor's information

    After release from prison or a custodial preventive institution, offenders may come under supervision in Germany, which means that their conduct is controlled for a period of up to five years or even for life by a judicial supervising authority. Supervision is terminated if it can be expected that even in the absence of further supervision the released person will not commit any further offences. From the theoretical point of view, supervision is not considered a form of punishment in Germany, but a preventive measure that is guided by the principle of proportionality. After a presentation of the German twin track system of criminal sanctions and a glimpse at sentencing theory, the capacity of the principle of proportionality to guide and control judicial decisions in the field of preventive sanctions is discussed. The human rights perspective plays only a minor role in the context of supervision in Germany.


Bernd-Dieter Meier
Prof. Dr. Bernd-Dieter Meier is the Chair in Criminal Law and Criminology at the Law Faculty of Leibniz University Hannover.
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.
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