According to a new survey, rehabilitation should be the main purpose of sentencing young Scotsmen.

Participants also believed that sentences should try to correct the victim’s harm.

TheReportFrom theUniversity of the West of ScotlandThe following is published by theScottish Sentencing CouncilIt is developing a guideline for the sentencing and rehabilitation of young people.

This research project was designed to examine the attitudes of young people toward sentencing. It also explored the themes and issues that emerged from a draft of the council’s guideline. The subject of a full public consult.

Focus groups were conducted with 66 young people across Scotland. Some of these young people had been convicted or were victims of crime and they were included in the focus groups.

Participants came from nine areas of Scotland’s local authorities: Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshires, West Lothians, Perth and Kinross and Dumfries and Galloway.

These findings indicate that young people were mostly in agreement with the draft guideline.

The majority of the focus groups supported rehabilitation as the primary purpose for sentencing young adults. There were differing opinions on the next most important purpose for sentencing. People who have had to deal with the criminal justice system believe that it should provide the offender with an opportunity to make amends. Young people who participated in youth work organizations thought it should protect the public.

Respondents were asked what sentences should do for victims. They stated that sentences should bring justice to the victim and show that the sentence is responding to the offence. Participants agreed that victims should be heard and that they should receive help as well as the offender.

Participants also agreed on the principles of sentencing in the draft guideline. They also discussed the factors that should be considered, including the maturity and capacity for change of a young person and their best interests.

Participants were also asked to give their opinions on the age at which someone should be considered a young person in order to create the guideline. The range of suggestions was generally between 16 and 25. It was clear that responses varied from 16 to 25 years old. Participants felt that age should be approached in a progressive manner and not at a single point.

Participants considered the importance of childhood relationships and family situations when discussing how to create a sentence. They also believed that there needs to be a greater understanding of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and how to experience them differently.

A community payback order with supervision was the most popular option when participants were given a variety of sentencing options. This was because a social worker was involved in the sentence. She addressed the young person’s needs and provided someone to listen.

Most people believed prison was punishment without learning. Therefore, it was unlikely that rehabilitation would be possible in prison. However, many groups believed that prison was used to punish very serious offenses and protect the public.

As areas in which the criminal justice system often falls short, mentors, mentoring, counselling were all suggested. Participants also felt that the criminal justice system often failed to provide mental health support. Participants suggested that an option was available to provide mental health support as part a combined sentence.

Lady DorrianLord Justice Clerk and Chair of the Scottish Sentencing Council said that: “We would like thank the young people involved in the focus groups, as well as the University of the West of Scotland, for this report. Its findings have been carefully considered along with other research reports and responses to the public survey we held last year. This will enable the Council to finish the draft guideline and send it to the High Court to be approved.

Dr Johanne MillerThe research was conducted by a team led byDr Sarah AndersonAccording to, “It was an honor that young people from Scotland shared their experiences with justice and their thoughtful, insightful opinions regarding the draft guideline.” It is crucial to include the voices of young people, and those who have been in contact with the justice systems, in order to ensure justice is not for them but for all.

Dr Miller will discuss the results of the research today as part a webinar hosted at theChildren’s and Young People’s Centre for Justice(CYCJ).

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