19 May Young people and punitive deterrence – does it work?
Young people and punitive deterrence – does it work?
Individual presentation6Enys Delmage, Capital and Coast District Health Board, New Zealand
Room 3CThu 10:30 - 12:00
This presentation will consider whether young people respond to deterrence following the commission of serious offences. There are two elements for the audience to consider - the neurodevelopmental approach incorporating our understanding of the adolescent brain's capacities and areas of challenge, and the criminological evidence from both child and adult studies. The relationship between punishment and crime is evidently complex and potentially affected by factors unrelated to the reasonable foreseeing of punishment on behalf of the perpetrator. In the case of serious crimes like homicide, rational decisions in the moment are rare – many crimes occur under the influence of alcohol or drugs or in states of heightened emotion, states which children are especially susceptible to in comparison with adults. Studies have shown that children demonstrate increased arousal during adolescence with heightened impulsivity and risk-taking behaviour. Adolescents also tend to be less future-orientated with their decisions and tend to weight gains more heavily than losses compared to adults, and are also influenced by their peers to a greater extent than their adult counterparts, all of which are likely to have an impact on any deterrent effect. The audience will be encouraged to consider the likelihood of deterrence being effective for young offenders committing serious crimes, in light of our knowledge about the capacities of adolescents at various ages and with reflection on methods used internationally to reduce crime rates.