Rational choice and responsibilisation in youth justice in Scotland: whose evidence matters in evidence-based policy?

Monica Barry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Rational choice and responsibilisation of young offenders are concepts increasingly informing youth justice policy in Scotland, yet there is evidence from both academics and young offenders that such approaches are ineffective. This article explores the views of young people in care and contrasts their evidence with that from Rational Choice Theory, elements of which are increasingly influencing youth justice policy. Government policy now focuses not on desistance but on the containment and behaviour modification of young offenders, strategies which no longer deliver justice but anticipate and modify so-called ‘rational’ thinking amongst young people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-364
Number of pages18
JournalThe Howard Journal of Crime and Justice
Issue number4
Early online date17 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013


  • desistance
  • youth crime
  • risk
  • rational choice theory
  • young people
  • looked after children

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