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Longer custodial sentences for child offenders?

The parents of Romy, Savannah and Nick have launched a petition for tougher punishments in Dutch juvenile criminal law. Their children were killed by minors.

Mariëlle Bruning

All three offenders received the maximum punishment: one or two years of youth detention and placement in an institution for juvenile offenders.  For the parents this was not enough.

Professor of Child Law Mariëlle Bruning understands the parents’ frustration, but says on Dutch news site NOS that the juvenile justice system is set up properly and provides sufficient possibilities to pass down severe punishments. ‘Placing a minor in an institution for juvenile offenders is very severe.’  

Bruning explains that juvenile criminal law in the Netherlands generally takes a pedagogical approach based on the notion that every child deserves a second chance. 'More than in cases involving adults, juvenile criminal law is primarily focused on the minor suspect and pedagogical interests.’ However, she does believe that in the courtroom more consideration could be taken of the victims and family.

Bruning also talked about this topic on the Dutch children’s news programme Jeugdjournaal (first item).

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