Published date: 
Monday, November 23, 2020


A major multi-year and multi-jurisdictional research project involving Centre members Eileen Baldry, David Brown, Barry Goldson, Sophie Russell, and Mel Schwartz, along with Chris Cunneen (Jumbunna Institute UTS, Honorary Professor UNSW), has made an important contribution to Australian and international youth justice research. Funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant, the Comparative Youth Penality Project has undertaken an examination of more than 40 years of youth justice law, policy and practice in Australia and the United Kingdom. The team has analysed the changing approaches to youth incarceration, particularly in the context of perceived effects on crime and the substantial public and social costs of imprisonment.

Joined by Damon Briggs (Frontline, UK), and led by Barry Goldson (Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology, University of Liverpool, and Visiting Professor, UNSW Law), the team has produced a new book: Youth Justice and Penality in Comparative Context (Routledge, October 2020). Key questions addressed by the authors include:

  • What impacts have legislative and policy reforms imposed upon processes of criminalisation, sentencing practices and the use of penal detention for children and young people? 
  • To what extent do international human rights standards influence law, policy and practice in the realms of youth justice and penality? 
  • To what extent are youth justice systems implicated in the production and reproduction of social injustices?

At a time when conditions in youth detention facilities, the impact on young people of police surveillance and strip search practices, and the minimum age of criminal responsibility are all in the headlines, and calls for change continue to build momentum, this important research offers a strong foundation for real reform.

Related article: Principles in diversion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people from the criminal jurisdiction.