Actuarialism and the young offender

Restorative justice wordle

Event details


Date & time

Thursday 10 September 2015


RegNet Meeting Room, Level 3, Coombs Extension, Building #8
ANU Canberra


Adam Scott


Emma Larking
+61 (0)2 6125 1513

Restorative Justice has become lost in a myriad of semantics and hyperbole; it is used as a social policy rhetoric which has lost its original purpose and identity. Contemporary justice has moved to bifurcate justice by predicting ‘risk’ of offending, whilst encouraging a communitarian style of justice away from the structured settings of traditional retribution. These two components have become aligned and unified and are acknowledged as the contemporary understanding of Restorative Justice.

In order to define Restorative justice in contemporary justice, a deeper analysis must be placed on the net-widening effects of penal populism and the labelling implications these processes have upon young people. Modern justice has delved deeper in to what was once regarded as areas of civil society in a bid to prevent crime before it has taken place. Consequently, Youth Justice has found itself the target of policies aimed at early intervention, ideologically presuming that if the system can identify risk factors which lead to crime, then it is possible to intervene on that path of criminality. However, Hazel Kemshall points out that there has been a problematisation of marginalised and excluded communities which has ‘resulted in a blurring of social policy and crime policy in which social problems are re-framed as crime problems’ (Kemshall, 2007). A merging together of an actuarial justice, which seeks to analyse future risks, whilst coinciding it with a communiatarian style justice has sought to combat the negative effects of formal justice. However, it has only served to create new areas of civility to label as ‘criminal’. This paper addresses the issues that surround the inescapabilty of ‘actuarial’ justice and its effects on minor youth deviance, and examines whether early interventions do little more than propel youths deeper into the entanglement of our justice system.

Whilst modern social policy follows a ‘what work’s’ philosophy, Ray Pawson (2006), suggests we must first ask what ‘what work’s?’ actually means, ‘how do social programmes bring about their effects? How do interventions intervene? What is the nature of causality in the world of policies and programmes?’ (Pawson, 2006: 20). Thus, we must ask what role does actuarialist justice play in justice, and what are its effects? How does Restorative Justice intervene on the burgeoning criminal career? And importantly, what effects do formal; justice institutions, such as the police, have on informal justice procedures? This paper seeks to address these questions to shed light on the true effectivity and purpose of early intervention justice.

About the Speaker

Adam Scott is a Graduate Teaching Assistant based within the Law school at Liverpool John Moores University; he is within his first year of Ph.D study. Adam’s primary area of interest lies within Youth Justice, with a focus on the relationship that exists between net-widening, labelling and a ‘risk’ led justice system, and how these concepts impact upon recidivism. Adam gained his keen interest for Youth Justice after gaining real world practitioner experience working with Wakefield’s Youth Offending Team in the UK. Adam is currently conducting a programme evaluation for Liverpool Youth Offending Team.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet