• Jerzy SarneckiEmail author


The Swedish criminal code of 1864 was based on the views of the classical school of criminal justice, which rested on the two cornerstones of justice and proportionality. Thus, the punishment should proceed from the criminal act and be proportionate to the severity of the act in question. Over time, however, this classical view was abandoned, and sanctions gradually became individualized on the basis of different characteristics of the offender. When determining the severity of sanctions, increasing consideration came to be given to factors such as the offender’s anti-social nature, psychological condition, and the danger he or she posed to society. By the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, the Swedish justice system was characterized by a treatment focus. However, this approach came to be questioned in Sweden during the latter part of the 1970s—similar to many other parts of the western world. Today’s Swedish legislation on young offenders represents a compromise between the classical theory’s demands for justice and proportionality and treatment theory’s focus on prevention and rehabilitation. Social services and diversion from the legal system has still strong influence on reaction to the criminal acts of the youngest offenders (up to 15 and often even 18 years), while the legal system’s influence increases with the offender’s age. Compared with many other countries, the system can still be considered as lenient and characterized by humanistic values.


Sweden Juvenile justice The age of criminal responsibility Social services Treatment Imprisonment Trends in youth crime Special approved homes Alternative sanctions Neoclassicism 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Gävle UniversityGävleSweden

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