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Other Forms of Placement Based on the LVU Act

The vast majority of the youths that are subject to compulsory care placements in accordance with the LVU Act are placed in foster homes or in the non-secure residential institutions known as HVB homes, which also host the majority of youths who have been placed in care on a voluntarily basis. (Certain HVB institutions may also have secure units.) As the age increases, the proportion of youths placed in foster homes declines and the proportion placed in institutions increases.

Restorative Justice

A large proportion of the measures taken for young offenders can be viewed as alternative sanctions that involve youths being diverted away from the criminal justice system and traditional criminal justice sanctions. At the same time, the use of measures based on the restorative justice perspective is limited in Sweden. Mediation is the only form of restorative justice that is employed on a large scale. Since the early 2000s, the use of mediation has been regulated by special legislation

(Lag 2002:445). Mediation also falls under the responsibility of the municipal social services, which is required to cooperate with the criminal justice system. Since 2008, it has been obligatory for all municipalities to have the capacity to offer mediation following offenses where the offender is under the age of 20 (Socialstyrelsen 2009). Municipalities may also offer mediation in cases involving offenders aged 20 or over, but this is not obligatory. There is no lower age limit for mediation, as it can be offered even when a suspect is under the age of 15.

When the social services provide a written opinion to the prosecutor or the courts regarding offenses committed by a suspect under the age of 20, this document is required to state whether the offender has been asked about participating in mediation and whether he/she is willing to participate. The issue of whether the offender is willing to participate in mediation is important to the sanctioning decision. The prosecutor, for example, is required to take the suspect’s willingness to participate in mediation into consideration along with the penal value of the offenses, the other information provided in the social services’ written opinion, and what the offender has admitted to. The victim’s attitude has no significance in this particular context (Ibid.).

It is interesting to note that there remains a certain scepticism towards restorative justice in Sweden. The system was introduced relatively late and its more formal links to the criminal justice process only came to be regulated in 2008. The National Board of Health and Welfare has recommended:

“In connection with certain types of crime, however, mediation may be completely inappropriate. This is first and foremost the case in relation to sexual offences in general, but also violent offences directed at family members or relatives, e.g. violence against women within an intimate relationship. An offer to participate in mediation can in certain cases in and of itself involve a further violation of the crime victim.” (Socialstyrelsen 2009:131)

This restrained attitude towards mediation is not in line with findings from the international research literature in this area (Strang and Braithwaite 2002; Sherman and Strang 2007).

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