The juvenile court judge in context : in search of balance

by Benoît BASTARD and Christian MOUHANNA

 

Benoît BASTARD, sociologist, researcher at the CNRS and member of the Institut des Sciences Sociales du Politique in Cachan, has published a number of studies on the justice system and social work in families, including Les démarieurs (Paris, La Découverte, 2002). Christian MOUHANNA, sociologist and researcher at the CNRS/CESDIP, has repeatedly researched criminal justice and the police. His writings include Une justice dans l’urgence (Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 2007), in collaboration with Benoît BASTARD, and Police : des chiffres et des doutes (with Jean-Hugues MATELLY).

 

Concern with juvenile delinquency, but also with educational assistance work, has fired much debate, often critical, on the juvenile justice system. The practices of juvenile court judges (JE = juges des enfants), in particular, and above all the primacy they give to education, symbolized by the Feb. 2, 1945 ordonnance, have been seriously challenged. Several laws have considerably modified the juvenile justice system. Structural reorganizations are under way, tending above all to give greater responsibility to département councils2. Furthermore, within the courts themselves, the position of JEs has been weakened by the growing role of the public Prosecutor’s office in the treatment of cases, and by the budget cut-backs suffered by courts in general.

 

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