Alternative Sanctions for Juveniles

Incarceration in juvenile training schools, juvenile prisons, and juvenile classification homes has been the traditional response to juveniles convicted of crimes. Alternative sanctions utilize nontraditional sentences in lieu of imprisonment and fines. Alternative sanctions include probation service, community service, in-home detention (electronic monitoring), and victim-offender programming (restorative justice). The main alternative sanction for juveniles is probation, which is a noncustodial sentence of conditional liberty. According to the Article 24 of the Juvenile Law, the Family Court shall subject a juvenile to protective measures as listed in the following items: (1) placing the juvenile under probation by the probation office; (2) referral to a children’s self-reliance support facility or a foster home; (3) referral to a juvenile training school. Nevertheless, the Family Court shall make decisions to alternative sanctions indirectly. While taking measures prescribed in the provisions of the Child Welfare Act is found to be appropriate as a result of the investigation of the Family Court, the Family Court shall refer the case to a prefectural governor or to the director of a child consultation center, each of which have authority over the case. There are no formal systems of restorative justice in Japan because the rules related to this type of system do not have support; however, “the victim’s feeling conveyance system (VFC)” and “the meeting for conversation between juvenile offenders and victims (MCJ)” are actively applied as practical restorative justice (Ota, 2010: 129).

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