Tougher justice for minors? Age, immediate appearance, “authority figure”… what Gabriel Attal wants for young delinquents

Tougher justice for minors? Age, immediate appearance, “authority figure”… what Gabriel Attal wants for young delinquents
Tougher justice for minors? Age, immediate appearance, “authority figure”… what Gabriel Attal wants for young delinquents

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Gabriel Attal announced new measures on juvenile justice during a trip to Valence (Drôme) this Friday. Several serious news items involving minors have hit the headlines in recent weeks.

Death of Shemseddine, 15, in Viry-Chatillon; attack on Samara, 13, in Montpellier; 14-year-old teenager injured by a box cutter by a classmate in Toulouse… news stories involving teenagers have multiplied in recent weeks. Following the death of Shemseddine, Gabriel Attal launched a consultation on juvenile justice. The Prime Minister gave an update this Friday morning in Valence (Drôme). Here are the measures he announced.

Immediate appearance at 16

Gabriel Attal wants a bill to be passed “before the end of the year” to allow an “immediate appearance” of young people from the age of 16, in the event of “aggravated violence” and when the young person is a “repeat offender” . “There is no reason why a young person of this age cannot be sanctioned immediately after the facts,” believes the head of government.

However, there is no question of sanctioning a minor like an adult. Should justice be more severe than today, in particular by attenuating the “minority excuse”? Gabriel Attal recognizes that there is “no consensus” but he wants to “move forward for that”.

This debate does not resolve the issue of under-16s who also sometimes commit serious offenses. In France, juvenile justice is governed by the order of February 2, 1945, which has since been supplemented 70 times. Since 2021, there has been a Juvenile Criminal Justice Code (CJPM).

Stays in a hostel

The Prime Minister wants to “move faster and harder to put an end to the feeling of impunity that can exist among our young people”. Gabriel Attal raised the possibility of placing young delinquents in homes for “very short stays” between 7 and 14 days. He would receive a visit from an “authority figure” (police officer, gendarme, soldier) to instill in him civic values. Objective of this measure which would be taken by a juvenile judge: “Cut the young person away from bad associations” and “allow the services to assess the situation”. Understanding the personality of the juvenile offender is essential to adapt the educational response. In fact, the minor who has committed an offense is not only considered as a person to be punished: he must be supported educationally.

Community service sentences

Parents considered to be “failing” may already be subject to community service. A parent who evades their legal obligations could also be subject to these measures, in addition to another sentence such as prison. When a young person commits damage, both parents will be asked to pay for the repairs.

Parenting support

To help parents face their responsibilities towards their child, the Prime Minister wants to develop “parental support” measures. A “Parent Path” system will be tested in 10 departments this year. Barely 4% of parents are supported, the objective is to reach 30% in 2027.

How do magistrates and associations react?

The magistrates’ unions are critical of the idea of ​​an immediate appearance at 16 years old. “We should not judge minors like adults,” said Aurélien Martini, deputy secretary general of the Union Syndicale des Magistrates (USM), who sees “difficult” how such a measure could be constitutional. Same opinion of the “Children’s Justice” collective which emphasizes that France signed the International Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989. The magistrates take the opportunity to recall the “glaring lack of resources” of juvenile justice.

On the proposal for short stays in a home, it is already perfectly possible,” says the president of the French Association of Youth and Family Magistrates. “The big difficulty is finding a place in a home,” assures Alice Grunewald.

Regarding community service sentences, “it’s a pure announcement effect”, points out Kim Reuflet, president of the Magistrates’ Union, classified on the left. “It is already possible to impose community service” for this offense.”

168,900 minors involved in 2022

According to the latest known figures, 168,900 minors were tried for delinquency in 2022 in France, which represents 2.5% of the population aged 10 to 17. According to a Senate report, this figure remained, between 2010 and 2019, rather stable, “between 190,000 and 200,000 depending on the year”. The sociologist and researcher at the CNRS Christian Mouhanna explained in a column in the World on April 24, 204 that violence between young people has always existed. The perception of violence would be different today, due to a much greater political and media effect thanks to the omnipresence of images.



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