Juvenile delinquency is an issue about which people all over the world are concerned.

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Juvenile delinquency is an issue about which people all over the world are concerned.


a) Read the extracts given below which present information on the gravity of the problem:


a) Youth gangs have been a part of Los Angeles since the fifties. Back then their activities were largely confined to petty crimes and small-scale marijuana dealing. But lately the num­bers of gangs have become staggering totalling from about 5,000 members lo 10,000. Almpst all the gangs are involved in the cocaine trade. "A typical gang might have 200 kids from 13 to 26 years of age," says Steven Strong, the L.A. Police depart­ment's detective. "Two weeks ago 30-year-old David Thompson and his wife were stopped by three armed teenagers, who rushed the couple, robbed them and then casually shot Thompson in the head. The gang members pushed the dying man's wife out of the car, got in and drove away."


b) Every night — and in many areas day and night, thou­sands of police cars patrol the streets of American towns. The list of crimes starts with petty crimes, goes through house-breaking, shoplifting, mug0ng to be topped by homicide. Entire neighbourhoods are terrorized by mobsters and thugs, many of them are quite young.


c) Just think about how teenagers run away from homes, their own, from caring as it seems mothers, fathers, grand­mothers. Why do they choose to look and act aggressive and tough? Take rockers who startle passers-by by the flashing lights of their roaring night motorbikes. Why do they, with their high-school background, have such a lack of thoughtful-ness? Self-assertion? Then why at other people's expense?


b) Pair work. Team up with another student, work out the reasons for Juvenile delinquency as they are presented to the extract and discuss the ex­tracts in pairs.



c) Speak about the social background of juvenile delinquency and its role in contributing to the crime rate. Consider the following:


1. Are juvenile offenders usually found among children from broken homes or large unhappy poor families? 2. Is being un­employed anlmportant enough reason to push somebody onto the path of crime? 3. What would you say about disillusion­ment, loss of faith in the surrounding grown-up world as a pos­sible reason for juvenile delinquency? 4. Speak on the vital role of drug addiction and alcohol consumption in the growing crime rate in general and in juvenile delinquency in particular.


Below is an interview with a judge on crime and punishment. The judge says why he gives help in some cases and punishment in others.


a) Work in groups of 3 or 4 and assign different opinions on the problem of the punishment to each member of the group:


Interviewer. Are there ever times when you just feel desper­ate, you know, you realize there's absolutely nothing that can be done for this person?

Judge: Oh, yes, very often.

Interviewer. And what do you do in such cases?

Judge: Well, it depends how anti-social their action has been. If a person needs help one wants to give it to him or her, but on the other hand you always have to consider at the same time: the effect on society in general of too much kindness to too many people.

Interviewer. You mean if such a person were let free he might cause far more trouble to other people than he could cause to himself while he's inside prison.

Judge: Yes, indeed. And also if people were never punished I think undoubtedly crime would increase.


b) Spend a few minutes individually thinking of further arguments you will use to back up your own opinion on the usefulness and types of punishment.


c) Now discuss the issue with other members of the small group using the arguments you have prepared. Do your best to support those who share a similar point of view and try to dissuade those who don't agree with you. (Use cliches of persuasion, agreement/disagreement).


6. In arguments involving suggestions, partial agreement and disagreement certain functional phrases of attack and response1 are used. The tactics of at­tack may be tentative or direct.

a) As yoy read the extracts below pay attention to the difference between the two:


— Isn't it just possible that new evidence will throw quite a dif­ferent light on the case? -

— Might it not be true that the boy didn’t mean any harm. (tentative)

— Surely you'd admit that the offender has violated the basic principle. (direct)

— Don't you think that the prosecutor has built his case on the erroneous assumption?


All of these things are racial slurs, aren't they? (direct)

b) Complete each of the following conversations below by supplementing the appropriate tactics of attack of the first speaker:

1. …

Possibly (may be so) I'd agree with you to a certain extent.

2. …

I see your point.

3. ...

That may well be.

4. …

I see what you mean, but...


c) As you read the text below note down the functional phrases of attack and response:


Juror 1: It's a tough decision to make, isn't it? Don't you think that it's an awful responsibility to have the future of that lad in our hands? I feel so sorry for him, he's not yet 21.

Juror 2: Come off it! You can't be serious! He didn't just take the money, he also beat up the old lady. He's guilty, it's written all over his face. It's our social duty to keep our streets safe at night.

Juror 3: I agree with your last statement, but surely you ad­mit the evidence for convicting this young man is rather flim­sy? Wouldn't you say that we need something more definite?



1 See Appendix (p. 289).



Juror 2: Ideally that's quite true, but there weren't any other witnesses. As I see it he had the motive, he has no alibi and the old lady recognized him...

Juror 1: Hang on a minute. I'd like to point out that she only thought she recognized him. Isn't it just possible that a scared old lady of 76 could have been mistaken ?

Juror 2: Fair enough, but it's all we have to go on. All the fingers seem to point at him.

Juror 3: That may well be, but strong suspicion isn't enough to put someone away in prison. If you ask me, even if he is guilty, the shock of arrest and coming to trial will be enough to stop him making the same mistake again.

Juror 4: I see what you mean, but the punishment's not our problem. We're here only to decide whether he's guilty or not. And the point is he was carrying a knife when the police picked him up, wasn't he?


d) Act out the situation similar to the one given above. Use various tactics of attack and response.

7. In a students' debating club the motion is"punks, heavy metal fans, rockers, nostalglsts, green hippies and others should be prosecuted by law."


a) Make a list of arguments for and against any legal sanctions against such groups of young people.

b) Define your own attitudes to these groups. Do you think they pose a threat to public order?

c) Participate in the discussion. Use the technique of defending your views by being forceful in presenting your arguments. Use the functional phrases of attack and response.

The success of a lawyer, especially a prosecutor, among other things depends on a skill in making a capital speech, based in some cases on the ability to attack, to force bis opinion on the Jury. Act as an attorney for the state in an imaginary case and prove at least one piece of evidence against the accused. Exercise your ability to ask the right kind of question, to be forceful in proving your point in attacking the counterarguments.

9. Panel discussion:


Suppose the fundamentals of a new criminal code of Russia are being worked out. Six experts are invited to a panel discus­sion to your University. They are Dr. Kelina (LL.D.), a leading researcher with the Institute of State and Law of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Dr. Orlov (LL.D.), the same Institute,


Dr. Stem (LLJD.), professor of the Cincinnati University, Mr D. Fokin, a people's assessor, Mr S. Panin, a people's judge and a criminal reporter for the national newspaper.


a) Open group discussion. Describe the members of the panel and elect the chairperson.

b) Split into groups of 5-6 students and assign the roles of the panel.

c) Before the beginning of the panel read the following selections carefully and extract the necessary information:


— It's a time-honoured misconception that the stricter the punishment, the lesser the crime rate. This misconception has long been debated by history and science. Law cannot, and must not take revenge: punishment is not an end in itself, but a means of restoring social justice. It's a tool for re-education. This concept should form the guidelines of the new legislation.

— Law is developing: it has no impunity in the court of time. A number of offences should be altogether excluded from the criminal law since administrative measures are quite suffi­cient against them. Say a driver violates some traffic regula­tions, and in the accident no one is hurt...

— Unjust law warps and handicaps a nation's morale. Re­member when in the not-so-distant past families of the "ene­mies of the people" hurriedly renounced their relations fully aware that the charges were false.

— We used to say that we had neither drug addiction nor prostitution. As long as there were no such problems any legal responsibility was out of the question. Now it is widely claimed that we need criminal laws against both drug addiction and prostitution.

— Could we make, say, prostitution a criminal offence? What could the evidence be? Who could bear witness?

— The violation of law would be extremely difficult to prove and the punishment would necessarily be selective.

— Some would be charged, others would be spared, and a selective application of law is arbitrary rule.

— But the real problem is elsewhere. Is immorality a breach of law? Don't we have to distinguish between a moral and a criminal code? I think we must be weary of the naive desire to make law relieve us of the pains of responsible choice. If every act were dictated by an article of the Criminal Code, rather than one's conscience and moral sense, human beings would become legal objects.


— Prostitution should be fought but the judges should be kept out of it.

— Drug addiction should not entail legal prosecution. Otherwise we may be in for disastrous consequences. People would be afraid to solicit medical help; it would be an impene­trable wall between the drug addicts and those who are able to save them.

— Are changes to come in the types of punishment?

— The reformatory function of jail is little-more than fic­tion. Rather the opposite is true. The first "jolt" makes an in­veterate criminal who won't stay in society for long.

— Even in an ideal penitentiary — if such could be imag­ined — serving one's time causes serious problems. A cooped-up individual loses friends, family, profession, familiar environ­ment and finds himself or herself a member of a group that is anything but healthy.

— But that's not the whole story. Imprisonment, particularly if it is prolonged, undermines one's capacity to make decisions, to control oneself. Set free after long years in jail, one is unfit for freedom, normal life seems incomprehensible and unbear­able. One might be unconsciously drawn to the habitual way of life. Around 30 per cent of former inmates are brought back behind bars after new offences, and half of them during their first year at large.

— According to sociologists, less than 5 per cent of those sentenced for the first time consider their life in the colony as "normal", whereas the correspondent figure for those serving a second sentence (or more) is 40 per cent.

— New penitentiary principles must be introduced. It is real as well as imperative. I believe the solution lies with a differentiation between convicts and separate confinement according to different categories. First time offenders should be kept separately from those with long "case histories"; convicts serving time for particularly grave crimes must not mix with petty delinquents.

— Another urgent problem is that of the maximum term of confinement. Scholars propose that the maximum serving time envisaged by the code and by each article be reduced.

— The legal profession and sociologists know that the arrest itself, the curtailing of personal freedom, is increasingly perceived as the greatest shock by the offender. It is a traumatic, shameful psychological experience. Hence, petty delinquency,


such as hooliganism, should entail not a year or two in jail but up to 6 months in a detention home.


d) The following issues are to be discussed:


1. Ifevery act were dictated by an article of the Criminal Code rather than one's conscience and moral sense, human beings would become mere legal objects.

2. Punishment is not an end in itself, but a means of restor­ing social justice. It's a tool for re-education.

3. Should drug-addiction entail legal prosecution?

4. The reformatory function of imprisonment is little more than fiction.


10. Write an article (3 paragraphs). In the newspaper to contribute to the discussion of a new Criminal Code. The topic can be chosen from the list of the problems given in exercise 9 (d).

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