New book will mark 15 years of the country’s juvenile law

The juvenile criminal code is 15 years old, and those involved in defending it will launch a book giving the history and lessons learned from the law, they said. The event will be at 2 p.m. today in the Sala de Debates #3, Third Floor of the II Circuito Judicial de San José, Guadalupe de Goicoechea,

The book is “15 años de Justicia Penal Juvenil en Costa Rica: Lecciones Aprendidas.”

Álvaro Burgos was identified as the coordinator of the work. He is a law professor and coordinator of the country’s only Tribunal Superior Penal Juvenil.

Promoting the event is the Costa Rican branch of the Defensa de Niñas y Niños-International. The organization strongly favors the existing law and opposes any efforts to bring youth under 18 into the adult penal system.

The book comes as a crucial time in juvenile justice as many minors are detained each week for participation in major crimes, including murder.
The organization said that among its challenges is that it sees the tendency to stigmatize the young criminal population, to toughen penalties and to increase the juvenile prison population.

Criminals under the age of 18 are treated much differently than adults with most penalties less than seven years, even for murder. And they are not jailed but placed in a more friendly environment.

The Dutch Embassy is a sponsor of the event.

A roundtable discussion also is planned with experts who submitted articles for the book. Defense de Niñas y Niños also said that those who attend would get a copy of the book.

The juvenile criminal justice system developed from the child saving movement at the end of the 19th century, mainly in Chicago, Illinois.

These reformers were anxious to adapt immigration children to American ways and believed that environment was the key factor in criminal behavior.

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