International human rights standards and child imprisonment: Potentialities and limitations

In: The International Journal of Children's Rights
Barry Goldson Charles Booth Chair of Social Science, Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology, School of Law and Social Justice, The University of Liverpool, UK,

Search for other papers by Barry Goldson in
Current site
Google Scholar
Ursula Kilkelly Professor of Law and Dean, Faculty of Law, University College Cork, Ireland,

Search for other papers by Ursula Kilkelly in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):


This article explores critically the relationship between international human rights standards and the practices of child imprisonment at a global level. Four key issues are afforded close attention: the separation of child and adult prisoners; the provision of ‘child appropriate regimes’; the protection of child prisoners’ rights and the operation of independent complaints and inspection mechanisms. We argue that there is manifest tension between international human rights standards and the practical realities of child imprisonment. Whilst we recognise the vital potentialities of the human rights standards – to pacify the more problematic excesses of child imprisonment – we also remain cognisant of their practical limitations and reserve a sense of scepticism in respect of the concept of ‘rights-based approaches’ to the penal detention of children. Ultimately, we challenge the legitimacy of child imprisonment and recommend its abolition.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 3305 700 74
Full Text Views 1429 237 48
PDF Views & Downloads 2251 555 121