Penal transformations: the case of the Chilean juvenile justice system
Rodriguez Gutierrez, Daniela Francisca
This thesis explores the major transformation of the Chilean juvenile justice system that was implemented in 2007. However, this is a much longer process that involves analysing the inter-relationship between polity building, the transition from authoritarian to democratic rule after 17 years of authoritarian regime over the 1970s and 1980s and the legitimation of democracy in the 1990s. Theoretical approaches to understanding the evolution of crime control and State punishment mechanisms usually refer to elements such as globalization (Newburn and Sparks, 2004), late modernity (Garland, 2001), or political economy (Dignan and Cavadino, 2007; Lacey, 2008). However, theory has also highlighted how the reform of justice systems forms part of broader processes of social transformation which, even though they involve an interaction with the wider world, are also dependent on their historical and local context (Melossi, Sozzo and Sparks, 2011). Nevertheless, most of what is known has been produced in developed, English-speaking democratic countries (or in relation to them) and rather less based on analysis of countries from the global south. The present work aims to reduce this gap. Based on documentary analysis and interviews, this thesis demonstrates the key symbolic role of juvenile justice to legitimate the new democratic rule in times of transition; how the impact of the continuation of authoritarian practices, people and ideology into democratic polity building can shape crime control and State punishment; and how the temporal, historical and cultural conditions of a given context can alter the meaning of what we believe are globally understood concepts and processes. In consequence, this research allows the understanding of a case that has not featured in the wider literature of penal transformation: a developing Latin-American country. It also offers the opportunity to analyse to what extent the existent research and theory of penal transformations can help to explain the drastic change in a context which is different to those where it is usually applied. In doing so, it contributes to the theoretical discussion of penal transformations with empirical research.