Today, there are many examples that prove that the best way of “keep[ing] the community safe at low cost” (Pritchard, 2003) is front-end juvenile programs, and one such example is the Silver River Marine Institute. Thus, arguably front-end programs are a more viable solution for dealing with juvenile offenders, especially those who have committed minor offenses. While it is true that one juvenile delinquent is different from another, however, one thing that applies to all of them is that early intervention is the most effective way to prevent juvenile delinquency (Flores, 2003). The sooner these children are provided with options and opportunities, they less likely they are to feel the need to commit a criminal offense. If even half of the money that is spent on incarcerating juvenile delinquents was spent on front-end programs to provide these children with opportunities, then there would not be as many juvenile delinquents to incarcerate as they are today. There is also proof that cost reduction benefits of front-end delinquency prevention programs reduce costs (Greenwood, Model, Rydell & Chiesa, 1998). Thus, the immediate solution for juvenile delinquency is definitely front-end programs.
Apparently, one of the reasons that front-end programs are not favored by our criminal justice system is because they have an either-or choice. Either they can favor front-end programs or support incarceration. The criminal justice system is led to believe that the two cannot co-exist, probably because the money can only be spent on either front-end prevention or locking them up. Perhaps, political influence is another reason that there are not many front-end programs, and maybe even because they play upon public fears. Like adult criminals, the public probably believes that they will be safer with juvenile delinquents behind bars. However, the fact of the matter cannot be denied, what these children need are front-end programs, “not jail cells” (Young, 2012). We need to start rethinking juvenile incarceration and pay attention to the pros of front-end programs.
Greenwood, P. W., Model, K., Rydell, C. P., & Chiesa, J. (1998). Diverting children from a life of crime. RAND Corporation.
Pritchard, D. (2003, Apr 6). Front-end juvenile programs like silver river marine institute keep community safe at low cost. Ocala Star-Banner. Retrieved from http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1356&dat=20030406&id=PQJQAAAAIBAJ&sjid=5wgEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4243,2029957
Flores, J. R. (2003, May). Child delinquency: Early intervention and prevention. Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/186162.pdf
Young, B. C. (2012, Oct 7). Teens need programs, not jail cells. Retrieved from http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-10-07/news/bs-ed-youth-jail-20121007_1_youth-jail-juvenile-crime-juvenile-arrests