CJS 240 W9 Final Project - Justice System Position Paper
CJS 240 W9 Final Project - Justice System Position Paper
CSU - Dominguez hills
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Date Created: 11/16/15
1 Justice System Position Justice System Position Paper The juvenile justice system of the United States should focus on rehabilitation versus punishment. The quandary of how to effectively deal with juvenile offenders has inundated the United States ever since the initiation of the criminal justice system. Both punishment and rehabilitation of juveniles have been two issues that are in the hands of the government. There are risks and benefits with rehabilitation and with punishment of juveniles, however rehabilitation is the form that seems more promising for the United States and its’ citizens, including the offender. The United States juvenile justice system should focus more on rehabilitation in every case involving juvenile offenders. There is no federal juvenile court division (U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs, 1997). The maximum age at which a juvenile is considered maximum to enter the juvenile system varies by state. In New York, Connecticut and North Carolina the Maximum age for a juvenile is 15. There are 32 states in America that see the age of 18 as the maximum age a juvenile can be considered to appear in juvenile system, while the remaining 8 states feel that age 16 is the maximum age that a juvenile can appear in the juvenile system. While looking at the youngest age a juvenile is entered into the justice system, it appears that the age of 7 is the youngest being that any age before that is measured as not being mentally developed (Champion, 1998). To sum this up, the age of juveniles found in the juvenile justice system is in the range of 7 years to 17 years old. In 2009 the United States Census Bureau stated the average life expectancy of a human being to be 77.8 years old (U.S. Census Bureau,2009). To completely understand reasoning of why rehabilitation should be considered versus punishment, one should comprehend the meaning of punishment. The imposition of incarceration, monetary fines, bodily suffering and in some cases, death is the meaning of punishment (Boonin, 2008). In the case of juveniles punishment is unrealistic. In the United States bodily suffering and the death penalty is not allowed. Our United States Constitution protects against cruel and unusual punishment. The United States Supreme Court upheld a law that said, the death penalty in cases where the offender was under the age of 18 when the offense was committed was outlawed, in 2005 (Golash, 2006).One form of punishment is taken away for juveniles, now leaving monetary fines and imprisonment as forms of punishment for a juvenile offender. Monetary fines generally are not feasible upon juveniles because juveniles generally do not have a significant source of income 2 Justice System Position and the responsibility will lie upon the parents to pay the monetary fines. It is not sensible to place juveniles in lock up for extended periods of time. Clearly, when dealing with juveniles, strictly punishment is not the answer and rehabilitation measures should be instituted. Incarceration of juveniles will instead not change a juveniles behavior without the implications of being taught how to behave differently and become successful, law abiding citizens within the community. The feelings of not belonging or fitting in unless they committed some significant act is a few reasons that juveniles cite as for their reasons in committing their crime (Juvenile Rehabilitation for Delinquent Children, 2009). Most juveniles begin committing acts of misconduct to gain the attention of others or when the are under peer pressure and trying to fit into a group. In the case of gangs, juveniles are cited as joining gangs to fulfill the sense of belonging, an emotional need that is often missing in the home of the juvenile. Committing criminal acts are a way for juveniles to stand out in gangs or to fit in with others. Some of the acts that juveniles commit include vandalism, larcenies and other minor criminal acts as a way of showing that they are willing to do what it takes to fit in or feel a part of a group (Siegel & Welsh, 2005). It is advisable that at this time is where intervention is needed in the lives of these juveniles’, before the criminal acts become more serious and frequent. The juvenile court system and law enforcement agencies will feel the greatest impact of change is rehabilitation is focused on more with juveniles. Certain procedures are to be followed when a juvenile is arrested or referred to the juvenile justice system. The procedures that must be followed are a combination of court procedures, state laws and departmental policies when arresting and detaining juvenile offenders. These procedures do differ among different regions and localities and it is recommended that they be combined as a set uniform policy in working with juveniles, in order to be more efficient and effective. Upon arrest of a juvenile, law enforcement and the court system should settle on what placement program a juvenile should be referred to. In order to be effective, law enforcement agencies should be able to have access to the juveniles entire criminal or offender record, both past and present, this will aid in making an effective decision on the type of treatment or intervention that a juvenile may be referred or court ordered to. By having access to a juveniles entire record it will aid the department in determining whether or not this is the juvenile offenders first offense or if they are a repeat offender. It is extremely crucial in determining the type of treatment for a juvenile offender to prevent future incarceration, if at all possible. Rehabilitation will not be successful if the governing agencies are not able to successfully gain the past and present offense records of a juvenile. 3 Justice System Position There are some states that have assessment centers for juveniles, this is where juveniles are brought once they are arrested and processed. The assessment centers handle only juveniles. Generally at the assessment center is where a majority of the background information is obtained on a juvenile, this includes a juveniles prior criminal and detainment records, information on the family and home life of the juvenile and where other assessments will be ran that will be determining factors on the treatment and punishment of the juvenile. When adults are arrested for a crime there are several factors that come into play to determine the outcome of the offenders sentence, this is also true with juveniles. With the juvenile assessment center having access to information on various juvenile rehabilitation programs and the information on each juvenile, they will be able to give a recommendation to the prosecutors on which program that will be more beneficial to each juvenile. The purpose of the assessment and holding center for juveniles is to keep the juveniles separated from adult inmates, to be able to obtain background information on the juvenile and at the same time give officials the opportunity to see how the juvenile reacts to other peers and confinement while giving the officers the opportunity to go back to their jobs of patrolling the streets. The juvenile assessment centers should also have family social workers and counselors that will work together to form a treatment plan for each juvenile. This treatment plan should be one that will teach the juvenile how to become a more productive, law abiding member of society as well as ensuring that any physical or emotional needs are met at the same time while the juvenile is making reparations for the criminal activity that he or she committed. The United States juvenile court system will need to go through some changes that will include training and knowledge on implementing various rehabilitation programs for juveniles. Some of these rehabilitation programs will need to be court ordered by a judge, this is where our state legislatures will come into play by enacting state guidelines that ensure rehabilitation for a juvenile at the same time as punishment. If a juvenile is involved in a minor issue then the court system should be avoided at the least. By avoiding the court system a juvenile will obtain the chance to keep his or her record clear of a charge. This can be done by taking those juveniles who are on their first offense and entering them into a diversion program, if and once the juvenile completes the program successfully then the charges can be dropped without making a mark on the juvenile’s record. This is also known as an intervention and can drastically reduce the amount of cases heard in juvenile court, giving the courts more time to focus on those with serious criminal misbehavior and needs. 4 Justice System Position The juvenile justice system and community services agencies will need to work together to produce effective and efficient results in recidivism in juveniles. Instead of being focused on punishment, community service should focus more on rehabilitation at the same time. At the present time community service programs are found to involve having the juvenile work in chain gangs, just as the adults do, this is a focus on punishment without rehabilitation or a look into deterring the juvenile from future criminal activity or behavior. No, juveniles should not get away with criminal behavior; they should in fact be punished while at the same time working on deeper issues that make them want to act out behavior wise. Currently the state of Florida has three types of juvenile justice educational programs, these include day treatment programs that works in the areas of prevention, intensive probation and conditional release, detention centers and residential commitment programs (Florida Department of Education, 1997). These programs ensure that at risk youth obtain all the materials needed to complete their education and give the opportunity for the juveniles to further their educational goals in receiving a specialized degree. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice states that many factors influence the recidivism rate of juveniles. These factors include prior recidivism, age at release from a program, chronic drug abuse, gender (boys are more likely to reoffend than girls), number of prior juvenile referrals, prior felony judgments, race, region of where the child resides and poor school attendance (Florida Performs, 2008). In fact Florida’s recidivism rate is comparable with those reported nationally by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The recidivism rate for inmates released from 1995 – 2005 is 32.8% (Florida Performs, 2008). Still another program in Florida that has significantly cut recidivism rate among youth is the Redirection Program (The Florida Legislature Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, 2009). The Redirection program has not only lowered costs associated with incarceration of juveniles but it responsible for helping those juveniles who complete their program successfully to reoffend. Juvenile offenders who complete the rehabilitation program are less likely to be arrested for a felony crime, be convicted of any offense or sentenced to another program. Overall the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice’s mission is not only to increase public safety but to reduce juvenile delinquency through effective prevention, intervention and treatment services that include working with the families. There are community service programs that allow a juvenile offender the opportunity to learn a skill or trade at the same time as performing a community service; this is known as restorative community service. Juveniles who are in a restorative community service have the opportunity to work along mentors who 5 Justice System Position can become a big influence in their lives and at the same time encourage the juvenile to be more useful in the workforce (Juvenile Rehabilitation for Delinquent Children, 2009). Restorative community service is one that works with the juvenile and the community while at the same time teaching the juvenile that there is a consequence for every action and for every action there is always another choice in being responsible. Intervention programs will need to be implemented that assists in helping a juvenile to build up their selfesteem and confidence. These programs may even involve the family as a whole unit that participate in family and individual counseling or training sessions. A majority of juveniles are searching for a feeling of belonging, a sense of a family unity; they find this often in gangs, this is where and why family participation is important. Intervention programs should be court ordered to ensure that all parties participate, monitored for the level of growth and be current of the times and trends of juveniles in the regional area. Substance abuse awareness is another key program that should be looked at when dealing with juveniles. Those juveniles who knowingly or are suspected of drug abuse or use may need substance abuse counseling or services. This is a type of counseling that should involve both the juvenile and their guardians. The guardians will need to be more so educated with knowing the signs of drug use in a juvenile. For each juvenile offender there is a different treatment that will work over another one, in other words what program is good for one juvenile may not benefit another juvenile. It is important that we have trained officials who will be able to recognize and assess the best for each juvenile. There are pros and cons to both rehabilitation and punishment. Although I do not feel that punishment should be the ideal means of handling those juvenile offenders, it is apparent that some offenses that are committed by juveniles are severe enough to warrant punishment as a first priority then rehabilitation. The severity of a criminal act and the danger to society is a factor that will determine whether or not a juvenile is incarcerated. Regrettably there are juveniles who commit heinous criminal acts such as rape and murder, in these cases it is not beneficial to have the juvenile offender on the public streets and therefore incarceration is a must to protect society. Unfortunately, there are juveniles, who are a threat to society and the dangers or risks of having them free, is too much to take. An advantage of juvenile rehabilitation can in the same also be a disadvantage. There is always the chance that a case where a juvenile offender commits a heinous crime and it is publicized that it will in turn allow the juvenile justice process to be ridiculed. Rehabilitation does not work on every juvenile 6 Justice System Position offender and the juvenile returns back to the life of criminal behavior after the attempt of an intervention process. There are risks with rehabilitation however the significant risks come in what may happen if we do not try to rehabilitate our youth first. Over all the decision between punishment or rehabilitation of a juvenile offender will continue to be up for debate. There are advantages and disadvantages to both punishment and rehabilitation. Some of the advantages and disadvantages can be costly, however the cost of redirecting a human life in a positive way is much higher. Once it is established that a juvenile offender cannot be rehabilitated then there is no other choice but to incarcerate the offender. Incarcerating a juvenile is costly as compared to the attempt at rehabilitation. The rate of recidivism is considerably higher for those who are incarcerated without an attempt at rehabilitation. Without implementing measures of rehabilitation to our juvenile offenders, it could possibly indenture the juvenile to centime a lifetime of criminal behavior and may one day end the life of an innocent citizen. This is a decision that is left to the people who vote, the citizens of the United States, how do we help our at risk juveniles? References Boonin, D. (2008). The Problem of Punishment. New York: Cambridge University Press. Florida Department of Education. (1997). JUVENILE JUSTICE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS (The Florida GED Program Administrators’ Manual). Florida Performs. (2008). Reoffenders (Recidivism) Golash, D. (2006). The Case Against Punishment: Retribution, crime prevention, and the law. New York: New York University Press. Juvenile Rehabilitation for Delinquent Children. (2009). Rehabilitation Today online. Retrieved June 20, 2009, from http://rehabilitationtoday.com/news/news/juvenile rehabilitationfordelinquentchildren.html 7 Justice System Position Juvenile Rehabilitation for Delinquent Children. (2009). Rehabilitation Today online. Retrieved May 13 , 2010, from http://rehabilitationtoday.com/news/news/juvenile rehabilitationfordelinquentchildren.html Siegel, L and Welsh, B. (2005). Juvenile Delinquency: The core. Belmont, CA: ThompsonWadsworth The Florida Legislature Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability. (2009). Redirection Saves $36.4 Million and Avoids $5.2 Million in Recommitment and Prison Costs (Report No. 0841). U.S. Census Bureau. (2009). Expectation of life and expectation of death by race, sex, and age. Washington, DC: Author, Retrieved May 11, 2010, from http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/births_deaths_marriages_divorces/li fe_expectancy.html U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs. (1997). Juvenile Delinquents in the Federal Criminal Justice System (NCJ163066).
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