The following paper takes into account the issues pertaining to juvenile justice and rehabilitation. The paper explains the interest I have in juvenile justice and rehabilitation, and a description of the research that I have done about the same topic. The paper explains the relevance that the topic has on the society and gives some examples of court cases that have been litigated to the subject. The paper also gives a detailed summary of how juvenile justice system best suits the issues discussed in the paper. Punishments and ineffective juvenile programs should be replaced with rehabilitation and evidence- based programs in order to prevent young people from delinquency, reduce repeat offenders and minimize the occurrence of future adult criminals.
Why the topic of Juvenile Justice & rehabilitation Interests me
There are two controversial things that interest me when it comes to juvenile justice and rehabilitation. One of the issues is the fact that most juvenile justice systems usually focus on punishments rather than rehabilitation (Chemers, 2005). Courts and justice systems for juveniles and adults should have a difference in that the strategies used for each system must be unique so as to make them effective and efficient. Juveniles should not be treated like any other adult criminals since most adult criminals are already hardened criminals who can negatively influence the youth. When young offenders are taken to a juvenile court, they should be given a chance to change their ways through various juvenile intervention programs. The government and the justice system need to ensure that young offenders are enrolled in a rehabilitation facility rather than taking them to an imprisonment facility.
The other controversial issue concerned with the juvenile justice and rehabilitation is that some of the programs used to change the young offenders into responsible citizens are not as effective as people thought. There are many programs that are aimed at preventing and intervening in the cases of young offenders, but some have not proved to be effective, yet they continue to be used in the rehabilitation centres (Chemers, 2005). Studies show that some recognized programs that are meant to minimize illegal behavior are extremely ineffective. Some prevention programs such as Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program, that people recognized as effective have now been confirmed to be very ineffective. Also, prison visitations have proved to be ineffective as intervention programs for the juvenile persons. Other programs that have proved to be ineffective are mental- health placements such as psychiatric hospitalizations. According to Lezon, (2006), these programs were implemented with positive intentions yet they seem to have increased the levels of delinquency among the youth.
Pertinent Research about Juvenile Justice and rehabilitation
According to Herman, (2007), research reports show that whenever juvenile justice system focuses on punishing the young offenders, the number of repeat delinquents goes high. This means that when a young offender is taken to prison for punishments, he or she rarely changes his prior behavior, making it easy for the juveniles to slide back into the world of crime when they finish serving their term in jail. This ends up making the young offenders and the society at large unable to understand the juveniles’ potentialities. This is justified by the fact that punishments only create pain in the offenders without impacting some knowledge to the young minds on how they can change and become productive citizens in the country. Young criminals could be faced with underlying problems that could be the root of their criminal behavior such as mental problems, family issues and drug abuse. Therefore, it is important to focus on rehabilitation rather than punishments.
U.S department of health and human services did a research in the year 2001 and reported that restrictive placements at mental institutions, residential centres and inpatient hospitalization were not effective as intervention programs when dealing with juvenile cases (Herman, 2007). This is because it did more harm than good to the child and adolescent offenders. The use of these programs did not lead to a reduction in the number of juvenile crimes. If an implemented strategy does not lead to positive results, it only means that the strategy is very ineffective. According to reports, other ineffective programs included juvenile boot camps, curfew laws and prison visitations. Neither of these intervention programs has led to a decrease in the levels of delinquency among young people.
Relevance of juvenile justice and rehabilitations to the society
This topic is very relevant to the society since any type of crime always affects the society negatively. In a rehabilitation facility, the young offenders are presented with an opportunity to learn about their crimes’ impact on the society. Also, they are made aware about how they can be productive members of the society and how rehabilitation can make them integrate with other members in a constructive manner through positive transformation. When a child or adolescent offender completes his program in the rehabilitation centre, he is considered fit to re unite with the larger society and he is given an opportunity to successfully contribute to the overall development of the society (Chemers, 2005).
In preventive cases, the society needs to understand that some societal problems may lead the youth into crime unknowingly. For example, a young person may result into inappropriate behavior due to some mental disturbances or drug abuse. The society has a role to prevent these issues from occurring by emphasizing on the positive developments of their children. Some children confess to have committed a crime that they had earlier witnessed in their lives. Rehabilitation has the ability of resolving the social and mental issues that are faced by these young offenders, and that is the reason why they should be given a chance to change through rehab rather than imprisonment. The public is already willing to support these programs, and most people in the society believe that rehabilitation of juvenile offenders can transform the young people into productive members of the society. The rehabilitation facilities are usually supported and run using tax payers’ money and every member of the society would advocate for a crime- free world (Herman, 2007). The tax payers need to see positive outcomes out of the programs that they support using their hard- earned finances. These are the reasons why this topic is relevant to all members of the society.
Court cases that have been litigated
In the year 1999, Lionel Tate’s mother went upstairs to take a nap and left her 12 year old Tate and 2 year old Eunick downstairs. After about 45 minutes, Tate ran to his mother and told her that Eunick was no longer breathing. Tate’s mother rushed the young girl to hospital but she was pronounced dead on arrival. The post mortem showed that the little girl had a crushed skull, damaged liver and broken ribs. Tate admitted to having wrestled down the little girl and later slamming Eunick’s head to the table. In the year 2001, Tate was tried in an adult court (for first degree murder), and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole, a judgment that was passed by the Broward State Attorney’s office (Herman, 2007).
In the year 2008, an 8 year old boy killed his father and a family friend using a 22 calibre rifle while in their St. Johns, home in Arizona. The young boy did not denying shooting the two men when he was interrogated by the police. During investigations, the police realized that the young boy had been keeping a tally of all the beatings he used to receive from his father. Therefore, the police felt that there must have been a reason as to why the young boy decided to shoot his own father. At first, the boy was charged with first degree murders but his father’s death charge was dropped after a plea deal. When the boy turned 10 years old, he was put in a residential treatment centre where he was sentenced to probation until he turned 18 years of age (Lezon, 2006).
In order to ensure that the juvenile justice system best suits the issues found in the paper, it is important to consider several strategies that can effectively be used during juvenile rehabilitation. According to Chemers, (2005), it would be vital for juvenile systems to emphasize on the usage of evidence- based reform strategies that include prevention and intervention measures. It is unfortunate that most justice systems do not consider the importance of emphasizing on these reform strategies. There are many preventive programs that can ensure that young people do not engage in delinquency while ensuring that first time offenders do not go back to criminal behavior after rehabilitation (Lezon, 2006).
Examples of preventive programs available for juvenile justice are High quality pre schools, the David Olds Nurse Home Visitation, Bullying Prevention Program, Life Skills Training, Project STATUS, and the School Transitional Environmental Program. There are other community- based Interventions that may include family therapies aimed at transforming youth offenders into productive people. These programs include Functional Family Therapy, Multi systematic therapy, Intensive protective Supervision. The young offenders who are introduced to these evidence- based strategies have the advantage of acquiring specific programs such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Aggressive Replacement Training, Family Integrated Transitions, and Multi dimensional Treatment Foster Care.
If the juvenile justice system ensures that more emphasis is put on rehabilitation rather than punishments, then the tax payer’s money will not be wasted on building prisons. The money will be used to implement evidence- based programs that will ensure that the number of juvenile cases and repeat offenders reduce significantly. Also, this strategy will ensure that the government controls and prevents young people from becoming delinquent or future adult criminals.
Punishments and ineffective juvenile programs should be replaced with rehabilitation and evidence- based programs in order to prevent young people from delinquency, reduce repeat offenders and minimize the occurrence of future adult criminals. More and more offences continue being committed by children and adolescents across the globe. In all cases, the society is usually concerned with the welfare of the child and this is the reason why there has been a growing need to find innovative ways of combating the rising issue. There have been two controversial issues as to how juvenile justice should be administered in the cases of young offenders. The first problem is the issue of punishment versus rehabilitation, and juvenile programs versus evidence- based programs. The society wants to protect the nation’s children by preventing instances of juvenile crimes and ensuring that first time offenders do not become repeat offenders later on. This is why the emphasis should be on rehabilitation rather than punishments since a rehabilitation centre can easily implement the various evidence-based programs that can lead to a more productive and crime- free society.
Chemers, B., & Reed, W. (2005). Increasing evidence-based programs in criminal and juvenile justice: A report from the front line. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 11(3-4), 259-259. doi:10.1007/s10610-005-3484-6
Herman, H. (2007, Dec 11). Surveys: Spend more on treatment for young offenders: Pennsylvania is one of four states in the study of juvenile justice. The results show that many surveyed back rehabilitation over jail. McClatchy - Tribune Business News, pp. n/a. http://search.proquest.com/docview/463437664?accountid=45049
Lezon, D. (2006, Nov 12). Confronting their crimes: JUVENILE REHABILITATION. McClatchy - Tribune Business News, pp. 1-1. http://search.proquest.com/docview/463173552?accountid=45049