Should the Juvenile Justice system should focus on rehabilitation CSS/240 January 17, 2011 University Of Phoenix There has been much of a debate over whether or not punishment or rehabilitation should be the prime focus of the Juvenile Justice system. In the past, the focus has gone from punishment to rehabilitation and back again. This swing seems to occur based more on the community’s response to Juvenile delinquents rather than on how well either one of these strategies will actually work.
Rehabilitation should be the primary focus of the Juvenile Justice system; however, punishment should not be abolished all together. This paper will explore many reasons why rehabilitation should be the main focus of the Juvenile Justice system. The purpose of this paper is to inform the audience about rehabilitation. It will be defined as programs and therapies that will allow any Juvenile delinquent to reenter the society as a contributing member to their community. Examples of such programs are behavior modification therapies, education, work programs, and counseling.
Each of these programs are aiming to correct an areas that needs such improving or Should the Juvenile Justice System Should Focus on Rehabilitation By Angelina The Juvenile Justice system should focus on rehabilitation because it can reduce time spent incarcerated, it can address more of the needs of delinquents, it allows delinquents to become more productive members of society, and it can reduce the costs associated with incarcerating youths. The article Juvenile Justice states that we should encourage more rehabilitation.
It also states that focusing on punishment rather than rehabilitation is “leading to more repeat offenders, and ultimately, depriving both society and the offenders themselves of their full potential. ” (The League of Young Voters. 009) The reasoning behind this is that offenders are being punished for their delinquent acts but are not necessarily learning how to reenter society as productive members. As Mullen states “Juvenile courts were designed to be flexible, informal, and to rehabilitate. (Mullen, 2008) Rehabilitation offers offenders a chance to learn about their behavior, how it impacts society, and what they can do to change that behavior. In this way upon completing rehabilitation these Juvenile offenders can reenter society. When the reenter society they know that they can be successful, contributing members of society. Without rehabilitation many offenders will go into adulthood to continue their delinquent behavior. Many of these individuals feel that rehabilitation would have been beneficial to them.
The article Public Willing to Pay More for Rehabilitation of Juvenile Offenders states “nine out of ten people potential to change. (Public Willing to Pay More for Rehabilitation of Juvenile Offenders, 2009) Day, Howell and Rockford inform us “Research conducted in juvenile Justice settings around the world consistently shows that young people who come to the attention of criminal Justice agencies have ultimate problems and experience high levels of need across all areas of functioning. ” (Day et AH, 2004) An interview was conducted on May 1, 2009 with Michael M. * backs this statement up.
Michael came from a single parent household. He had little supervision, was subjected to abuse, and witness drug and alcohol abuse. He also had mental health issues that had gone undiagnosed and subsequently contributed to his delinquent activities. He went on to be convicted as a Juvenile offender for theft, drug use, and assault. He was released but wound up being incarcerated again for the same crimes. When asked about obliteration, Michael states that he wished he would have had it while incarcerated at the youth detention center. He feels it would have allowed him insight into his behavior.
Michael is now homeless and on probation for various crimes. Michael has also been diagnosed with various mental health issues. It is uncertain if rehabilitation would have helped; however, given Michaels family history he would have been a perfect candidate to receive rehabilitation. He is a repeat offender, he he is responsive to the idea of receiving rehabilitation. There is often the mistaken belief that the people want the focus to be n punishment. Individuals believe that punishment alone is a deterrent for Juveniles. Often there is a belief that the harsher the punishment the less likely Juveniles will re-offend.
To address the publics perception on whether or not punishment or rehabilitation should be the focus several surveys have been conducted. Robert Sheppard Jar. Has written an article on what the public wants. When asked about punishment versus rehabilitation a high percentage were in favor of supporting policies that incorporated rehabilitation. (Sheppard, 009) The article, Public Willing to Pay More for Rehabilitation of Juvenile Offenders, states “An assessment of public attitudes is important because policy makers often assume popular demand for such action.
These new findings indicate a far greater desire for rehabilitation and more moderate reforms. ” (Public Willing to Pay More for Rehabilitation of Juvenile Offenders, 2009) It is important to have an accurate understanding of what the public wants in regard to the Juvenile Justice system. It is a mistaken belief that the public believes that youth offenders will never be able to be contributing members of society. Sheppard informs us that the public believes that many youth offenders can become contributing members of society.
Sheppard states that when asked “Sixty-three percent of the respondents believed the main purpose should be to rehabilitate youths. ” (Sheppard, Understanding why rehabilitation should be the focus of the criminal justice system is important. It is also important to understand how rehabilitation impacts law enforcement, court processes, probation, corrections, community services, and intervention programs. Successful rehabilitation can impact these areas by decreasing the workload of Hess programs. Because those who complete rehabilitation are less likely to re-offend law enforcement can focus on current offenders.
Those in rehabilitation programs or who have completed rehabilitation are less likely to increase the case load in the courts. Juveniles who have received may or may not be on probation. Those who are on probation may have their probation decreased upon successful completion of rehabilitation. Rehabilitation can decrease the burden on the corrections system by decreasing the number of Juveniles that are incarcerated. Community services and intervention programs may experience an increase in Juveniles enrolled in their programs. This will likely be due to Juveniles complying with their rehabilitation programs.
While each of these areas are impacted differently, the outcome is positive because the number of Juvenile offenders is likely to decrease. In order to understand why rehabilitation should be the focus, we also need to understand why punishment should not be the focus of the juvenile Justice system. Punishment is a consequence for an committed an unacceptable act. Punishment is meant to be unpleasant. By being unpleasant it is hoped that it will act as a deterrent to unacceptable behavior. Punishment does not address the social or mental processes that may contribute to delinquency.
It also does not address why an individual committed an unacceptable act. Rehabilitation can and does address these issues. Day et al cite that in North America 96 percent of Juveniles re-offend after being released from custody. Most offend the reason released youths re-offend is because the reasons why they offended were never addressed. They also state that those that receive rehabilitation have a significantly lower rate of recidivism. (Day et al, 2004) Punishment also has a significantly argue price tag associated with it.
The detention facilities must provide food, clothing, shelter, and educational services to each youth that is incarcerated. The American Civil Liberties Union states that the cost to incarcerate one child for one year can be between $35,000 and $64,000. (The American Civil Liberties Union, 1996) Rehabilitation is considerably less. Punishment by itself does not decrease the rate of juvenile offenders. In some cases it appears that the rate may increase slightly. Punishment alone Just does not work. Rehabilitation has both its advantages and it’s disadvantages.
The advantages of rehabilitation are that it addresses the needs of the offender and can customized to the individual’s needs. If a Juvenile needs fewer services the number of services provided can be decreased. It also costs significantly less than incarceration. As previously mentioned, incarceration costs are in the tens of thousands. Rehabilitation averages under $10,000 per child per year. This is significantly lower. Rehabilitation also decreases the recidivism rate. The disadvantages are that the rehabilitation programs must be of good quality to produce the most favorable results.
Adequate staffing and funding can also be disadvantages because these may be in short supply. While there are disadvantages, the advantages still outweigh them. Reducing the number of Juvenile offenders and getting them the help they need will always outweigh the disadvantages. Rehabilitation must be the focus of the Juvenile Justice system. Failure to provide these services to Juvenile offenders hurts not only the Juvenile but also their communities. When we believe that there is no hope in rehabilitating our youths we are sending them the message that we have lost faith in them.