Compare and Contrast the Welfare, Justice, Crime-control and Restorative models of Juvenile Justice



Author’s note


           The juvenile justice system processes youth who are under 18 years old accused of committing a criminal act or delinquent. The juvenile justice system is similar in so many ways to the adult criminal justice system. The similarities include probation, adjudication, detainment, arrest, hearings, petitions, and reentry. However, the juvenile justice system operates on the fundamental belief that adults differ from youths both in rehabilitation potential and responsibility level.  The fundamental goals of the juvenile justice system are habilitation, rehabilitation, successful reintegration of the offender into society, skill development, and focusing on the treatment needs of an individual through various justice models. This research seeks to explore the various juvenile justice models and compare and contrast them.

Juvenile Justice Models

           The first juvenile justice model is the restorative model.  The Restorative justice model views crime as a violation of relationships with people hence it aims at reestablishing those relationships and creating a balance that has been offset by the crime. The restorative model restores the offset by involving all the stakeholders of the crime i.e. the victim, the offender, and the community to restore the balance. The main aim of this model is restoring the peace and status that existed before and not punishment. The other important elements of this model are respect to all stakeholders, accountability for the crime, and centrality of the offender throughout the restoration process (Wilson, 2017). Restorative justice facilitates interactions between the offender and the offended through various programs i.e. Sentencing Circles, Victim-Offender Mediation, and Family Group Conferencing. Sentencing Circle is a community-based process that is conducted in the community in conjunction with the criminal justice system to establish a proper sentencing plan.  Victim Offender Mediation is the process through which the offender meets with the victim in a structured and safe setting for the offender to be held directly accountable for their actions. Family Group Conferencing is mediation between members of the family and police and social workers in regards to an offending youth. The possible result of the restorative juvenile justice model is: making the youth responsible and accountable for their action, leaving the victim feeling heard, making the offender offer an apology either in written or oral form, community service, and restitution. This model of justice emphasizes the responsibility of the offender (Wilson, 2017).

           Secondly, the welfare juvenile justice model which has its base in socialism and communitarianism (Lambert &Mason, 1996). This model sees the youth as needing intimacy and community. The model emphasizes understanding the individual in the social context and interactions of the youth in the society which form the intricate value of a human being. In the welfare juvenile model, rehabilitation is its main goal of sentencing. The welfare model focuses on the needs of an individual as opposed to the deeds. Its main justification is that a youth belongs to a family and after committing an offense he/she should be integrated back to the community.

           The third model is the Justice model which considers the youth and children as self-determining agents who have the autonomy and freedom to do whatever they want, either wrong or right (Lambert & Mason, 1996). This model justifies punishment by stating that an individual should be held responsible for his or her actions. The justice model focuses on the offense rather than the offender and proportionality of the offense to punishment.

           The fourth model is the crime-control juvenile justice model. The crime-control model focuses on the efficiency of the juvenile justice system with its most important function being to suppress crime and to ensure the safety of all members of society through maintaining public order. This model believes in the punishment of offenders by locking them to protect society and make sure that community individuals are feeling safe. The Crime-control model believes that individuals should be punished severely and swiftly and their punishment should be proportional to the crime they committed. The model reinforces the juvenile courts where law enforcement apprehends the suspects, the courts decide their guilt, and delinquents receive appropriate and severe punishments which are aimed at correcting an individual.

Comparing and Contrasting the different models of juvenile justice

The restorative model has some similar functions to the justice model i.e. they all aim at ensuring the offender takes responsibility for their actions. However, while the restorative justice focuses on the offender, the victim, and the community, the justice model considers juvenile offenders as autonomous creatures who have liberty and free will to choose their actions and therefore they should get punished for their actions if they are offensive to other members of the community.

The restorative model is similar to the welfare model in community aspects. While correcting a delinquent community is an important aspect of the restorative and welfare models. In the welfare model, rehabilitation is the ultimate aim whereas, in the restorative model; the community may take part in coming up with sentencing plans of an individual. In the welfare model, the rehabilitation is taking back the delinquent into the community while in restorative; the community plays a role in correcting an individual.

The welfare model differs substantially from the justice model i.e. the welfare model focuses on the needs of an individual as opposed to the deeds whereas, the justice model focuses on the offense more than the offender. The justice model aims at punishing the offender and punishment of the offender should be directly proportional to the actions whereas, the welfare model focuses on rehabilitating the offender and ensuring the swift return into the community.

The justice model is similar to the crime-control to a great extent as both are aimed at the punishment of an individual to ensure safety and security in society. These two models of justice justify their school of thought by stating that every individual has the free will to do either right or wrong and those who choose to do wrong and harm others should be punished.

The welfare model differs substantially from the crime-control model. The welfare model aims at the reintegration of the offender into society whereas; the crime-control model stipulates that offenders should be separated from other members of society to ensure safety and security. The welfare model stipulates that an individual is shaped by his interactions with society whereas the crime-control model stipulates that offenders should be kept in correctional facilities before their reintegration into the community.


In conclusion, there exist various models of the juvenile justice system whose fundamental beliefs and reasoning are different, and whose school of thought is justified. As much as those models are fundamentally different, their main goals are interrelated. The main goal that subsists through all models is the responsibility of an individual for his/her actions and reintegration into society even after being an offender.


Wilson D. (2017), Effectiveness of Restorative Justice Principles in Juvenile Justice: A Meta-Analysis, George Mason University. Retrieved on November 12, 2020 at

Lambert B. &Mason B. (1996), Justice Welfare or A New Direction? An Examination of the Juvenile Justice Legislation Amendment Act. Retrieved on November 12, 2020

M. Rutter and H.Giller (1983) Juvenile Delinquency: Trends and Perspectives, Harmondsworth, Penguin.

Youth Justice Board and Welsh Assembly Government (2004), All Wales Youth Offending Strategy, Cardiff

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