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CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

The Slovenian juvenile justice system has for the most part resisted modern punitive trends in dealing with juvenile offenders. The welfarist tradition remains strong in this specific field of criminal justice, even though dealing with adult offenders has taken a more punitive route.

The rationale behind punishing juveniles is predominantly rehabilitative and educative. This is best reflected by the strong role welfare agencies have in dealing with juvenile offenders as well as the sanctions applied to juvenile offenders: ever since 1959 the predominant role has been given to educational measures, and among those to nonresidential ones. The upsurge in the use of residential educational measures in recent years might, however, be an indicator that the tide may be turning. It is still early to make such claims, especially without detailed analyses of the reasons for such a sentencing stance, but the trend is certainly worth monitoring in the future, from academics and authorities alike. Luckily the trend has not extended to juvenile imprisonment, which remains very scarcely and carefully applied.

The changes in sanctioning juveniles are especially important when put in the context of steadily diminishing numbers of juvenile offenses and offenders, both in numbers and proportions of all offenders in the system. Moreover, there has been no increase in the number or proportion of violent crimes that would warrant a tougher response, quite the opposite: as the number of all juvenile offenses is dropping and the proportion of violent crimes remains the same, there are actually less violent crimes being committed by juveniles every year.

There is no easy explanation for this welcomed trend, but it seems that looking for the reasons and drivers behind it might be worthwhile not only for the Slovenian context, but for a comparative context as well.

 
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