It is not always easy to fill an issue of EuroVista. We are in a niche where there sometimes may be longer periods between new developments, we rely on authors who usually have other business to attend to besides writing articles and there are several other journals on the market that sometimes are preferred over ours. So it feels really good to be able to present a truly fine issue like this one, with no less than nine articles and two book reviews. It would have been a really thick one if we would still be printing it!
Three of the articles are of Dutch origin, two are Romanian, and there is one each from Ireland, the USA, Scotland and Norway. Four of them are the result of presentations held at the CEP-conference on Young Adult Offenders in Lillestrøm, Norway last August. We would like to encourage all presenters, workshop leaders and organisers of CEP-events to keep in mind that they have a potential podium in EuroVista.
The reader can of course decide for himself in which order you want to read the articles, but we will start the following short introductions with the articles on young adult offenders. The idea behind the conference was to look at this often ignored but important target group from various angles, like their process of desisting, their involvement in violent extremism, the possibilities for the use of restorative practices, but also their specific position in legislation as being on the brink of adulthood while still not having developed fully in many ways. Several presenters – not all of them represented here – underlined recent research in to the stages of brain development, for example. All the more reason to study how best to deal with this age category, which is responsible for a disproportionate share in criminal activity.
– Monica Barry from the University of Strathclyde presents us with a comparison between youths in two countries that seem far apart and very different in culture, and not in the least in a crime context: Scotland and Japan. Her conclusions about how these youths describe and explain their thoughts towards becoming criminal and desisting from crime through various “push”- and “pull”-factors are surprising.
– Jolande Uit Beijerse from Erasmus University in Rotterdam discusses the pros and cons of new legislation in The Netherlands on juvenile offenders. Like in a number of other countries, the transition from the penal law for minors to the one for adults was very abrupt, more or less from one to the other on their 18th birthday. A new provision allows the courts to impose juvenile sanctions to persons up to 23 years old, under certain circumstances. Uit Beijerse describes how this is panning out.
– Annemieke Woldhuis, who works as an independent researcher and is vice-president of the European Forum for Restorative Justice, presented a workshop with Maartje Berger from Defence for Children Netherlands and together they contribute an article on their subject here. They too focus on the above-mentioned research on brain development among young adults and argue that in certain cases the rights of children should also be applied to young adults, and this would imply an easy access to restorative practices.
– Melissa Lefas and Junko Nozawa are connected to the Global Centre on Cooperative Security, which has offices in Washington D.C., New York and London and has countering violent extremism as one of its thematic areas (http://www.globalcenter.org/). In a long and authoritative article in the shape of a policy brief, they argue that special attention should be paid to ensure that protection mechanisms for juveniles in general extends also to juvenile violent extremist offenders and that here too, steps must be taken towards their rehabilitation and reintegration.
So much then, for the spin-offs from the CEP-conference in Lillestrøm. CEP was also involved, together with its sister-organisation for prisons, Europris, in the realisation of the project “Prisons of the future”. Former member of the Dutch Parliament Cisca Joldersma reports on the results of the recently finished project, where several North-Western European countries contributed with data, opinions and ideas. The results are described along the dimensions of a six-layer model. The conclusions show a future tendency towards a less clear distinction between correctional work inside and outside the prison. At the same time, such a development would need to be realised in an often volatile political climate, which constitutes the outer layer in the model.
In the articles introduced until now, one might say that the focus has been more on overall correctional issues with probation aspects than on probation or community justice as such. The remaining ones have a clearer focus on our “core business”. First there are the two Romanian contributions. Romania has a relatively new, dynamic probation service and we are happy to be able to publish two studies from this country that is also very active in organising international events in the field.
– Gabriel Oancea, Chief of the Bucharest Probation service takes up a subject that is not too often talked or written about: the impact of HIV/AIDS among probationers. His thorough study aims to identify specific characteristics of the HIV/AIDS infected delinquents regarding the way in which they perceive, understand and interpret reality, while it also aims to investigate the specific intervention methods used by the probation officers in such cases, or for that matter, if there are any such methods.
– Ioan Durnescu from the University of Bucharest interviewed 18 probation workers on how they view their work with crime and those who commit it. Questions addressed include: Do they believe in change? How can it be brought about? How big is the role of various theories or evidence bases in the daily practice of these workers? The results are of great interest for practitioners and managers as well as researchers and theoreticians.
In 2012 CEP organised a seminar on Assessment and pre-sentence reports in Oslo. The presentations can still be found on the CEP-website under “Knowledgebase”. The subject has not become less important in the four years that have gone by, and the last two contributions are directly related to this theme.
Some years ago, the Norwegian Correctional Service decided not to hop on the risk-assessmenttrain that was – and still is- running through Europe on its way from Northern America. Instead, it was decided to develop an assessment-instrument based on needs and resources. It has been implemented in a number of prisons and probation offices for some time now and Gunnar Vold Hansen and Finn Samuelsen from the Østfold University College report on its first evaluation.
And finally, Etáin Quigley from the University College of Dublin picks up on the 100 % probation-related issue of pre-sentence reports, which seem to have undergone a significant change lately in Ireland. The emphasis has shifted away from offenders being perceived as suffering from a moral or social deficit, to being in need of stratification according to their risk level. Her paper outlines the preparation and utilisation of the pre-sanction report with the aim of identifying the prevalence and influence of risk focused discourse and practice.
All in all, this has become an issue that is rich in contents and variety and hopefully lives up to the expectations our readers have grown to have of EuroVista. Thanks to all the authors, to John Deering for editing the section on book reviews, to Amanda Williams for flawless administration and making things happen and to Esther Adam for uploading.
On behalf of Rob Canton and myself I wish you some interesting hours of reading pleasure!