Parental restitution: soft target for rough justice

McMahon, Anthony (2004) Parental restitution: soft target for rough justice. In: Hil, Richard, and Tait, Gordon, (eds.) Hard Lessons: reflections on governance and crime control in late modernity. Advances in Criminology . Ashgate Publishing , Hampshire, UK, pp. 115-130.

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[Extract] In an effort to 'get tough' on juvenile crime and to placate growing 'public concern', western neo-liberal governments have introduced a range of legislative measures designed to extend and strengthen sentencing options available to the court. While such legislation has been directed mainly towards the sentencing of offenders, the notion of responsibility extends to the role played by parents in the control and supervision of their children (see the chapter by Pitts in this book). Cohen (1985), for example, has noted a more penetrative and incisive extension of social control which has incorporated the voluntary and/or coerced participation of an active citizenry in the war against crime. Central to this strategy was 'a greater direct involvement of the family, school and various community agencies in the day-to-day business of prevention, treatment and socialisation' (Cohen 1985: 77). The family, therefore, has a central role in the ideology of community control of crime since parents are seen to represent the principle guarantors of the child's moral character. The management of offending, mainly as prevention, has devolved increasingly onto parents, among others, with the expectation that they could be held directly accountable when things went wrong (Hil and McMahon, 2001).

Governments in Britain, Australia and the United States, have provided for the greater use of parental restitution by the courts as a means of punishing parents for the criminal actions of their children, thereby extending the boundaries of culpability to include the family as a whole. In so doing the legislation necessarily absolves the State from any direct or indirect responsibility for generating the conditions that might lead to crime and instead places the blame squarely on the shoulders of young people and their parents (Cook, 1997). In this sense, parental restitution constitutes a formal recognition by the legal and judicial authorities that the neglectful actions of parents have contributed directly to the irresponsible behaviours of their children.

Item ID: 7373
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-0-7546-2216-1
Keywords: juvenile crime; parental restitution
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2010 00:51
FoR Codes: 18 LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES > 1801 Law > 180199 Law not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9404 Justice and the Law > 940404 Law Enforcement @ 100%
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