Youth Offending

Legal and Policy Frameworks for the Case


Legal frameworks based on the law shape youth offending in the UK. The framework provided under the Youth Justice System comprises of the procedures and organs that will convict, punish, and prosecute individuals who have not attained 18 years. This is necessary to ensure the punishment of criminal offenses committed by individuals below 18 years and prevent them from committing similar offenses in the future. Under the Detention and Criminal Courts Act 2000, when a person below 18 years of age is convicted for committed a given offense, the Crown Court will determine the sentencing process and the imprisonment of the juvenile. The court determines the level at which the offense is punishable. Some of the punishable offenses leading to sentencing in the country include sexual abuse, engaging in sexual activities with another child in the same family, inciting any other child in the family to have sex or sexual activity, possessing firearms, and engaging in any other forms of criminal activities.

According to different legal frameworks, Sex law is applicable depending on the age of the individual. For individuals between 12 and 15 years, the law requires that an individual should not touch another person sexually or engage in any kind of sexual acts if there is a age difference of more than two years. This should be an offense even if the individual has agreed having committed the crime. According to the law, any sexual act between members of the same family is incest. This is the case whether the person committing the offense has the consent or not. This also applies with people who are closely related or close members of the family.

According to the legal framework, it will also be necessary to consider the kind of the criminal offense and provide the right judgment. The law also states that any individual under 18 years and is involved in criminal activities can be prosecuted. The individual is charged in court depending on the criminal act. Possession of firearms and engaging in criminal offenses is an offense and therefore the Youth Court should seek the right judgment for the offense committed. The law also defines how juveniles engaged in drug consumption are sentenced according to the law. After examining this case, the court might accuse George for committing incest and sexual offense with a close member of their family, who is Sharnie. This case becomes valid because they two have an age difference of more than two years. The law requires that the judgment passed to the juvenile depend on the criminal offense committed. It is also notable that George has been involved in other criminal offenses such as stealing and burglary. The case study also observed that Sharnie and George have been using solvents. The case here is quite complex and requires that the issues are carefully examined and decide the way forward for the offenses (Western, 2009, P. 13). According to the policy and legal frameworks, George has committed several offenses that can be judged under the juvenile law. These legal issues and frameworks are thereby applicable to this case study.

Structural Inequalities Underpinning this Case Study


For very many years, different societies have placed judgements based on people’s race, skin colour, and nationality. Some of other considerations that have affected legal processes include people’s economic positions, cultural heritages, and level of education. These issues have resulted in inequalities within the legal systems of different societies (Sorensen, 2002, P. 270). Such social inequalities are therefore applicable in this case study faced by George and Sharnie. With the children’s father being African and their mother European, the children are mixed heritage and this affects their societal position and the way they are considered by the wider society. This also affects the wider legal process despite the kind of issues and facts defining the case.

The involvement of the youth in criminal activities is something mirrored within the context of social inequalities. These are issues viewed within the wider context of economic, political, and social forms. These social divisions and inequalities have greatly influenced the processes of criminal law in the society. With the above case, the issue of structural inequality is applicable based on the issue of societal settings. In many societies, issues of racism and discrimination have been studied under the aspects of sociological circles (Cooper, 2009, p. 22). For very many years, class and race has been relevant to social analysis regarding the issue of youth justice. Human class in the society is something considered under social relation (Spitzer, 2005, P. 650). This is concerned with social, economic, and political power. It is a well-known fact that individuals in a society act in accordance with the existing relationships with the surrounding people.

Kaplan (2006, p. 17) asserts that there is increased cases of criminalisation and marginalisation of specific sections of the young population. With the existence of neo-liberal concepts, there are huge ideas and changes that are taking place today in the wider society. The young people and children are also becoming part of these changes in the society. It is therefore important we understand these structural aspects of inequality and promote better legal processes in the society (Steffensmeier, 2008, P. 789). Understanding these inequalities in our society is important for us to interpret these social processes and improve the justice systems for the youth.

Looking at this case study, we observe that George has appeared in court on three counts of burglary and taking motorcycles four times without the consent of the owners. He has also appeared in the court for a charge of GBH (grievous bodily harm). This was after an incident that occurred outside school. The background also indicates that George and Sharnie are of a mixed descent. Chances are very high that there will be cases of discrimination in the legal process. It is also important to consider the issue of skin colour in the legal policies (Sutphen, 2008, p. 19). With George being from a mixed heritage, the issue of inequality and discrimination might affect the entire legal process and the outcome of the case. It is also observable that the society has a way of defining people according to class and social structures. The society might treat individuals based on their origin and social status. Being from a mixed heritage, he might be prejudiced and convicted easily than other individuals from other heritages (Kaplan, 2006, p. 37). This kind of development will definitely have enormous impacts on the outcome of these cases. Racism is one of the major hindrances in different legal processes.

Through structural inequality, it is possible to identify it as a potential source of bias within the wider context of youth offending and criminal justice in any given society. Individuals are judged depending on their social attachments, class, and ethnic backgrounds. It is therefore important to explore these inequalities and paradigms in the society to understand how we can address the issue of youth justice system (Wacquant, 2000, p. 379).

Gender inequality is another structural issue faced in different societies and countries. Looking at this case, chances are very high to victimise George as a juvenile especially based on issues of gender. On the other hand, Sharnie might be considered differently simply because she is female. For very many years, the issue of gender has determined legal processes revolving around court matters. The case also indicates that George has already faced several charges while at the age of thirteen (Wacquant, 2000, p. 379). Understanding these issues in the society is necessary to underline the specific inequalities faced underpinning this case. By so doing, it is possible to project the possible outcomes of the juvenile case. The fact that George is a male places him at a greater risk of conviction in comparison with Sharnie who is a female. Another issue worth examining as a source of structural inequality is the issue of medical history of the individuals. Since Sharnie had seen a psychiatrist some years earlier, chances are high she might be considered innocent but at the same time convict George despite their differences in age (Williams, 2005, p. 37). Based on the history of criminal history of the individuals, chances are very high that George will be convicted because of these inequalities existing in the society.

The above structural inequalities are important because they definitely affect the case study as faced. Understanding these inequalities provides the way forwards towards addressing the legal issues carefully and ensure no false accusation or conviction. The idea is to make sure the best legal approaches have been applied in the case study regarding George’s child offending. Since child offending is a serious crime, the right procedures and legal requirements need to be considered to make sure the best judgment is provided for the cases faced by George as a teenager (Western, 2009, p. 8). Structural inequalities in the society are worth considering and discussing because the idea will make sure the best legal processes for the case study are provided. This analysis of key structural inequalities underpinning this case study offers the right way forward to understand the legal outcomes of the cases faced by George.

Theoretical Perspectives to Support the Above Arguments: Social Practice to Undertake in the Case Study


The existence or prevalence of structural inequality in the society is founded on conflict theory. With the society being a fluid structure, there are different groups that are struggling constantly to have a portion of the scarce resources. The people are also fighting for freedom, prestige, power and wealth (Roberts, 2006, P. 32). As a result, the society favours specific people to be wealthy and free. The conflict theory explains the kind of differences that might exist in the case facing George. Being from a mixed heritage, chances are quite high that George will be discriminated because of the originality and race.

According to this theoretical perspective, the society tries to provide and promote the benefits of certain groups with freedom. The majority groups in the society tend to have greater gains because the structural and legal structures tend to favour them. Negotiations and compromise is a common practice witnessed in the society (Musick, 2005, P. 12). This is something that might affect the legal outcome of these cases faced by George based on this theoretical assumption. The existence of inequality in the wider society is based on struggle as individuals continue to fight for resources that are scarce in the society including legal judgments. Since the society tends to be fragmented based on race, chances are very high that the structural inequalities highlighted above will definitely affect the judgment of this case study.

The existence of inequality in the society results from social statues, gender, economic positions and educational background. Sociological theories explain how inequality affects the legal processes and the procedures determining different issues (Morash, 2006, P. 28). In this case study, inequalities will result from heritage, race, age, and gender. The conflict theory explores the occurrence of disagreements and inequality within the structural aspects of the wider society. Although these theoretical perspectives might understate the degree of stability or cohesion, it is important to note that they explore the possibilities of mistreatment and oppression of the weaker individuals in the society.

There is also a connection between substance abuse and conflict theories. According to different scholars, substance abuse as witnessed in this case is an issue resulting from class conflict and structural inequality (McLaughlin, 2003, P. 48). Although the wider society might be prone to abuse, social conflict arguments or theories argue that individuals from minority groups are likely to be affected by abuse of certain substances and drugs. George happens to be one of these individuals from a different heritage and this places him as a victim of discrimination. The fact that the children are from a minority race, definitely they have continued to take drugs and substances. From the case, we observe that Sharnie has been taking some solvents. At the age of fifteen, she has seen a psychiatrist.

The above theoretical perspective explores the structural inequalities faced in the society and the reason this case seems tricky based on the theories. As the theory proposes, individuals from poor economic positions will be targets of discrimination. Those individuals who are poor in the society will engage in drugs despite their age. The legal framework is founded on the issue of structural inequality as faced in the society (Hess, 2009, P. 82). The above theoretical perspectives are relevant here because they explain some of the possible directions and structural inequalities undermining the case study. The social structures significantly affect the legal process and the final judgment of the case as faced by George.

With this case, there is the need to undertake several social work practices and help the juveniles. As a social worker, I might undertake several programs to advise the court regarding the issues of juvenile processes. I will also be willing to provide the juvenile courts with useful information on children development and legal matters (Dupper, 2011, P. 47). The first thing to consider is the issue of family situation, racial background, and child upbringing. With this in mind, the court will consider the issues faced by George and Sharnie, then come up with the best strategies to deal with the problem. The other information that can be provided to the court includes information about family situations, neighbourhood environment, performances in school, moral history, and peer relationships.

Having understood the issues and background of this case, a social worker can testify in the hearing process and inform the court about the family of the child, the juvenile himself, and the aggravating circumstances about this case study (Cooper, 2009, P. 83). The role of the social worker is to make sure the legal process is effective and addresses the problems as faced by the individual. Social services and workers are therefore effective in the promotion of juvenile justice. The social process promotes the justice system and makes it possible for the workers to act as agents of the court and promote the legal process (Roberts, 2006, P. 27).

Social workers can work with the client to seek justice and involve the juvenile in the entire process. The first thing is to consider the social issues affecting the children in the society. This is because there is an entire circle involving family background, peers and community. With this case, a social worker should help in the legal process and provide the best legal advice to the guardians and the judges (Cooper, 2009, P. 83). The society and lawyers should also be willing to understand the arguments and ideas presented by a social worker about this case. A social worker should also promote positive communication between the juvenile’s defence and the court. The social service available for this case is to offer the children involved with moral and emotional support. It will also be necessary to educate the society about structural inequalities. This will present how to handle the issue whenever passing legal judgments as presented in this case study.

References


Cooper, D 2009. Intersectionality and beyond: law, power, and politics and location, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Dupper, D 2011. School Social Work: Skills and Interventions for Effective Practice, Longman, London.

Hess, K 2009. Juvenile Justice, Longman, London.

Kaplan, V 2006. Structural inequality: black architects, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

McLaughlin, E 2003. Restorative Justice: Critical Issues, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Morash, M 2006. Understanding gender, crime, and justice, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Musick, D 2005. An Introduction to the Sociology of Juvenile Delinquency, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Roberts, A 2006. Foundations of Evidence-Based Social Work Practice, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Sorensen, J 2002. The Effects of State Sentencing policies on Incarceration Rates, Crime and Delinquency, Vol. 48, No. 1, pp. 256-275.

Spitzer, S 2005. Toward a Marxian Theory of Deviance, Social Problems, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 638–51.

Steffensmeier, D 2008. The Interaction of Race, Gender, and Age in Criminal Sentencing: the Punishment Cost of Being Young, Black, and Male. Criminology, Vol. 36, No. 1, pp. 763-797.

Sutphen, R 2008. Social Work Practice and Juvenile Delinquency, Journal of Teaching in Social Work, Vol. 13, No. 2, pg. 12-34.

Wacquant, L 2000. The New ‘Peculiar Institution:’ On the Prison as Surrogate Ghetto, Theoretical Criminology, Vol. 4, No. 1, pg. 377-389.

Western, B 2009. Incarceration and Racial Inequality in Men’s Employment, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 54, No. 1, pp. 3-16.

Williams, M 2005. Women, Crime and Criminal Justice System, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

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