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Residential Measures

There are two types of institutions for residential educational measures: educational and correctional homes. The main differences between them, are the juveniles who can be placed there and the different regimes in place. There are four educational homes for juveniles who are in need of care and help. They can be placed into such an institution by a decision of the Centre for Social Work (e.g., if parents cannot provide proper care to the child, if the child runs away from home often or does not go to school), or by judgment of the court because the juvenile has committed a crime. The total capacity of these institutions is about 500 children and only about 10 % are juvenile offenders (Filipcic 2006). In addition, regardless of the reason for being placed in the institution all children are treated in the same way, stemming from the logic that they all need help. All four institutions are organized as small communities with about six juveniles living in a separate apartment together with educators.

Recently, there have been issues placing juvenile offenders in educational homes. Even when judicial panels decide on such a measure, educational homes are not willing to place the juvenile in its care. In some instances they claim that the juvenile has characteristics and needs that require special programs not available at their educational home and thus argue that they are not able to provide the proper care for the youth.

Only one institution specializes in juvenile offenders: a juvenile correctional home center with a capacity for 70 juveniles. The juveniles sanctioned with this educational measure commit more serious offenses and need special help and supervision.

There is no fixed term the child will spend in the educational or correctional home. The minimum length is set at 1 year while the maximum length of time may not exceed 3 years. There are regular 6-month reviews as to whether the measure is still necessary throughout that period. Juvenile judges may stop the execution of the educational measures on the grounds of positive treatment outcomes or they may modify the imposed measure. After the first year the juvenile may be conditionally released, and in that case the court may decide for the supervision of the young person by the social service (Filipcic 2006).

Since 2008 there has been a noticeable increase in the proportion of juveniles being sent away from home as part of their sanction, which may at first glance indicate a more punitive attitude of the courts. However, such a conclusion seems premature, given the lack of empirical research. Other factors could be at play: on the one hand the increase could be linked to an upturn of juveniles with drug or alcohol problems in recent years, who are therefore in need of longer and more intensive treatment (Filipcic 2010a). On the other hand when taking into account that the total number of registered juvenile offenses as well as the total number of sanctioned juveniles have been steadily decreasing, it seems more adequate to assume the changes are due to more serious cases being brought to the sanctioning phase with more official and nonofficial diversion being implemented at earlier stages.

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