Juvenile offenders are growing in numbers and they take a significant account of arrests involving the crimes of burglary, murder and rape. Juvenile delinquency is no doubt a social problem that is becoming pervasive if not addressed appropriately. The juvenile law took transitional stages in order to adopt to the changing trends in juvenile crimes and offenses. Through the efforts of social reformers, the juvenile justice system in the country took one form to another from the creation of reformation schools for the juvenile delinquents, the separation of juvenile offenders from the adult offenders, the creation of the special juvenile courts, to the active involvement of parents and the community in the reformation program of juvenile offenders through an informal, non-adversarial, non-punitive and flexible approach. This paper will focus on researching the literature reviews involving the two significant concerns involving the juvenile law in the country namely the effectiveness of the law in juvenile delinquency prevention and the alternative measures taken for juvenile confinement and detention such as the implementation of the wraparound services. The author will also provide some literature insights whether how far the juvenile justice system has accomplished in eradicating the numbers of juvenile offenders in the community and how it benefits the youth offenders towards reformation against the commission of crimes and the prevention of further development of youth offending behaviors.
The evolution of the juvenile law in the country transitions from one form to another in an effort of finding the best intervention that will be effective in reducing juvenile crimes and offenses. According to Mack (1909), the original goal of the state when creating the juvenile law is to introduce to the child that he is subject to the power of the state but is dealt more empathetically in a way as to make the child feel that he is the object of its care and solicitude. This goal is drawn from the principle of parens patriae that means “parents of the country” where the state exercises control as the guardian of its citizens through the creation and implementation of laws that will take care of the general welfare of its people. Underlying this principle involves the positive youth development approach that took significant impact on how policymakers created the juvenile justice system in a less punitive way and more focused on self renewal after incarceration and the implementation of rehabilitation programs involving the community and family of the juvenile offenders throughout the process. Just how effective the juvenile justice system using this approach is indicated by various academic reviews that optimistically agree that positive youth development programs work better in helping the juvenile delinquents overcome the stigma of being an offender and helped them learn how to cope from their offending behavior and reinforce the positive things in their lives. This helped in eradicating the numbers of habitual juvenile delinquents because of the effective reforms they underwent through the help of rehabilitation programs under the supervision of the juvenile justice implementing agencies. The juvenile law also imposes some traditional goals among the law enforcement agencies in line with the juvenile justice program focusing on detection, suppression, juvenile supervision and incarceration. The juvenile law emphasizes taking delinquency repression such as preventing the first delinquent act of a person which aims to control the commission of any future and more serious juvenile crimes and offenses. The law enforcement agencies are mandated to make an arrests such as dissolving gang formation. Preventive measures, although a part of the goals of juvenile law, are not within the scope of the juvenile justice system as pointed out by Siegel and Welsh (2014). Its policies and programs that tend to prevent delinquency behaviors typically involve social workers, day care providers and teachers, counselors and parents to whom the child is exposed during their formative years and every day life. Being a part of the structural umbrella of juvenile law, preventive measures have significant impact in the implementation of the juvenile justice system in the country by reducing the costs of rehabilitating juvenile delinquents and unclogging the juvenile courts with cases involving juvenile offenses.
The juvenile law also implements programs that are directed towards deviating against incarcerating juvenile offenders and instead providing alternative means for juvenile confinement and detention, more particularly the implementation of the wraparound services. The wraparound services are individualized need-driven planning services that aim to divert the young offenders from a more serious court involvement and to decrease the risk of recividism among the juvenile delinquents. It offers comprehensive programs involving the members of the community like social workers, teachers, friends, parents, family members and other significant individuals to the youth offender’s life that tend toaddress the basic needs of the child that will reduce their offending behavior more effectively. Consequently, the wraparound services made a cost effective impact to the juvenile justice system as the process reduced the costs for out-of-home placements (Grigorenko, 2012). Literature reviews indicate that juvenile delinquents who participated in wraparound services tend to show less engagement in subsequent risky and deliquent behavior as compared to the juvenile offenders who received the conventional juvenile court services or intervention. This form of non-punitive intervention receives critical views among the academicians citing out positive factors that are necessary for its effective implementation. These include the conservation of institutional resources in the law enforcement agencies, reduction of the barriers that keep juvenile delinquents from receiving assistance and services that will address their needs. The wraparound services, as part of the juvenile law intervention programs, are effective as a team driven process constituting the participation of the people who are significant to the juvenile offender (Wilson, 2008). They help the child create strong values through the efforts of the child’s family and community support. Because it provides an individualized planning, its impact is more specific and targeted with better response from the youth offender. Thus, the alternative mode for child incarceration and detention for juvenile delinquency such as the wraparound services are more effective for being individualized and community based intervention as compared to the court litigation processes.
This literature review provides a more optimistic view on the effectiveness of employing less punitive means of correcting juvenile delinquency as part of the structural system of the juvenile law. Prevention is considered to be the most effective means of deterring the growing numbers of juvenile crimes which is more efficient through a community based preventive program that tend to cultivate good values to a child, thereby reducing the development of aggressive and risky behaviors. Avoiding direct court litigation process such as resorting to the alternative modes of juvenile detention through the wraparound services is likewise a better approach in rehabilitating a juvenile delinquent as the process harbors better self worth and self esteem despite the commission of juvenile offenses on the child, making them better renewed individuals with something worthy to contribute within his community.
Grigorenko, E. L. (2012). Handbook of Juvenile Forensic Psychology and Psychiatry. New
Mack, J. (1909). The Juvenile Court. Harvard Law Review. 23:120.
Siegel, L. and Welsh, B. (2014). Juvenile Delinguency: Theory, Practice and the Law. New
York: Cengage Learning.
Wilson, K.J. (2008). Literature Review: Wraparouns Services for Juvenile and Adult Offender
Populations. California: Center for Public Policy Research.