Juvenile Delinquency Case Study

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I will begin my essay by looking at what is meant by juvenile delinquency, then research from various sources to give me an insight into some of the social backgrounds of young offenders and reasons why they get involved in criminal activity and the juvenile justice process in Ireland. With the Irish prisons rapidly filling to capacity and rising juvenile crime levels, Ireland appears to be shifting slowly away from a ‘prison and punishment’ ethos, to a more positive ‘prevention’ ethos. This new ethos challenges the notion that prisons are ultimately solution to crime. Ireland certainly appears to be taking this on board when dealing with juveniles.
I will also look at the involvement of the Gardai in diversion and then look at
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Differential Association is a theory developed by Edwin Sutherland which was created to explain reasons why people commit crimes. The theory claims that criminal behaviour is learned through process of communication with other persons.

Reasons why they get involved in criminal activity.
Emotional problems
A study of a sample of 100 young people attending St. Vincent’s Trust found a complex picture of both emotional and family problems facing these young people.
In their upbringing, they had experienced a variety of problems, for example; loss of a parent, child abuse, parental alcohol and drug misuse, drug abuse and frequent domestic violence.
In their own current circumstances, the young people reported; involvement in crime, substance abuse, physical and sexual abuse and homelessness. (McKeown, 1992).
Educational Disadvantage
Young people who do not have Junior or Leaving Certificate qualifications face a risk of unemployment three times greater than young people who pass their Leaving Certificate. Even if employed, they are likely to experience greatly inferior job conditions and poorer job security (Breen,
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To avoid the possibility of re-offending a plan may be entered. (www.extern.org)
Family Conferencing
Family conferencing is primarily based on the restorative justice philosophy. The offender and his/her family come together with a member of the guardai or a probation and welfare officer. A family conference may be recalled after a period to time to review the child’s behaviour.

Juvenile Diversion Projects
Garda Special Projects
Garda Special Project was originally established in 1991. The first such projects were set up in Tallaght and Clondalkin in Dublin. The aim of these projects is ‘to provide suitable activities to facilitate personal development and encourage civic responsibility’ (Bowden et al, 2000.). The Gardai hope that their involvement with the young people in trouble on a more informal basis will help develop a relationship of trust and respect between the two sides. Consequently, the Gardai involved in these projects have a difficult task of trying to maintain law and order in the community, while at the same time trying to gain support from its members. It is important to note that while the Garda Special Projects are aimed at low risk offenders, and is geared toward ’at risk’ youngsters who may not necessarily have any convictions.

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