Published Online: 1 FEB 2013
Copyright © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.
The International Encyclopedia of Ethics
How to Cite
Ramsay, M. 2013. Juvenile Justice. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .
- Published Online: 1 FEB 2013
Juvenile justice concerns how society should deal with pre-adults who are alleged to have violated penal laws. The juvenile justice debate is dominated by two moral ideals. First, there is the broad idea of just deserts or retribution – all persons who commit an offense should receive a punishment that is proportionate to the severity of that offense (see Justice; Punishment; Retribution). Second, just punishment also requires genuine responsibility – blame for a wrongful act may be diminished or eliminated if a person lacks appropriate responsibility (see Responsibility). To be responsible for an act, one must have an appropriate level of understanding, rationality, and self-control. Children's diminished responsibility has often been used to justify some form of “welfarism,” the idea that the law should protect, rehabilitate, and educate juvenile offenders. Traditionally, welfarism has been implemented through a separate penal system designed around juveniles' needs and capacities. However, while they prioritize welfarist goals over punishment, many welfarists endorse some level of retributive punishment for juvenile offenders.
- legal and political;
- normative ethics;