The Choice between Treatment and Punishment in the Juvenile Justice System

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"When considering social justice and juvenile justice, treatment as well as penalty stand at either end of the continuum. The juvenile justice system has actually oscillated in between these two principles over the years"(Listwan). When the juvenile justice system was first executed, it focused on trial and also penalty parallel to the grown-up system. With time, even more scientific research study has actually shown the striking distinction in between a teen and adult mind. This, combined with a much more restorative, counseling-centered culture has led to increasingly more concentrate on treatment as well as alternate approaches to pure penalty. Consequently, believe that while penalty is required, treatment is a more effective way to take care of juveniles that still have a lengthy life in front of them. There is a difference in between treatment and also penalty, comparative statistic, prevailing methods, as well as concepts of adolescent misbehavior.

In the 1900s, a separate system for handling adolescent cases came into being. "New ideas from that time, which are still made use of today, consist of: probation, parole, indeterminate sentencing, and also the establishment of different juvenile courts" (Listwan). "During the years of 1960-1980, the pendulum swung far from the a lot more revengeful courts as juvenile justice system started diverting juveniles into treatment programs, decriminalizing particular offenses, as well as ensuring due process for the culprits" (Listwan). In the 1980s, there was a "dramatic rise in crimes prices, the kinds of crimes juveniles devoted ended up being far more terrible, relocating from criminal damage as well as burglary to rape, murder, and attack" (Castillo). Listwan concurs that the juvenile justice system "moved to a more punishing philosophy" consisting of boot camps, afraid straight programs, incredibly max facilities, and also waivers to send juveniles to grown-up courts (Listwan).

Castillo after that keeps in mind that this new research "established that although juveniles might have the ability to compare right and wrong, they are less qualified than adults to control their impulses, to utilize factor to guide their actions, and to consider the effects of their conduct" (Castillo). The courts began to take that new study in account in making a decision penalties for juveniles. Presently, the adolescent justice system it leaning toward treatment over or together with penalty. As an example, L.C. Castillo keeps in mind that the death penalty, even for the most fierce, horrendous criminal activities, is not deemed ideal for juveniles due to the fact that their "features require reduction" (Castillo).

Similarly, "a life-without-parole sentence also does not serve the objectives of rehabilitation because it removes the offender's chance to reenter society" (Castillo). Ultimately, Castillo recommended that holding cell ought to additionally be included in the checklist of punishments that are not proper for juveniles. He said that "juveniles are more vulnerable that grownups to the consequences of holding cell since their minds are not yet completely developed" (Castillo). This might lead to mental disorder, anxiousness, rage, sleeplessness, self-mutilation, ideas of suicide, as well as self-destruction.

Similarly, Listwan defines a number of success treatment alternatives for juvenile culprits. One is adolescent medicine court that "relies on therapy as well as accountability-oriented court method" (Listwan). Like drug therapy, temper administration classes are one more excellent opportunity for juveniles. Teen court is one more option to conventional penalty. "Critics stress that the court can have an adverse impact on youth" (Listwan). Researches have actually shown that the teen court design has some favorable aspects. As an example, "The fast growth of teen court recommends that they are prominent in numerous jurisdictions" (Listwan). He takes place to report that in the year of 1994 there were only seventy-eight teen court models and in the year of 2013 that number had grown to fourteen hundred. Generally, these teen courts are used for first-time, non-violent wrongdoers.

There are numerous sorts of teen courts: adult judge, young people judge (where teenagers are the court, prosecutor, defense attorney, and also the jury), peer jury, young people tribunal, or mixed model. Each of these has a different combination of grown-up managers and also teenagers. A third aspect of treatment remains in regard to the mental wellness of the juvenile. This treatment "will usually require to include medicine administration, support services for mental illness and household assistance" (Listwan).

Eventually, for "therapy to be reliable it needs to match the offenders threats and also requirements, make use of designs that are behavior as well as cognitive, consist of regression prevention, and have a strong system of incentives and repercussions" (Listwan). Here is a check out historical juvenile crime information for medication offenses, consisting of government data in addition to data from three comparable locations: Boise, Idaho; Jackson, Mississippi; and also Providence, Rhode Island.

Both government and state federal government record similar numbers like these presented above. As an example, an article from the Star Tribune notes that "Dakota County numbers reflect a similar decrease in all levels of adolescent criminal offenses. Country wide attributed in part to years of new legislation as well as funding, in addition to changing financial elements" (County). The percent changes over the ten-year duration from 2004-2013 are remarkable and demonstrate an internet of different, favorable influences.

More understanding comes from Jones and Weatherburn that wrapped up, "while rises in imprisonment likely have some result on the crime price by paralyzing wrongdoers, imprisonment is a costly way to regulate criminal activity (Jones and also Weatherburn,). They advise proactively going after treatment for the reasons that underlie the criminal activities. Could this sort of reform decrease the crime price even additionally?

As represented in the film Freeway, youngsters that grow-up in a terrible, drug-infested home do not find out the appropriate manner in which to share themselves or the degree of their actions carries their future. By fact, children design their moms and dads. If parents are doing deviant actions, children do not view anything incorrect with doing the exact same behaviors. Just as Vanessa saw her mom functioning the streets to get cash for the family, Vanessa impersonated a streetwalker in order to have the ability to most likely to her granny's at the end of the motion picture. She discovered how to make a shank from her step-father in order to get away from jail. In some cases youngsters have great moms and dads, yet still go astray from social norms. Family members is important in creating a youngster's personality. A child requires responsibilities, responsibilities, and also close family relationships along with some opportunities.

Interaction in a family is really essential as well. Children see the stress in a family members despite the reason and also open interaction is vital to stop the youngsters from condemning themselves for it. Parents desire their children to speak with them concerning any kind of issues that might occur, but typically do not feel the need to allow the kids to be info concerning family scenarios that impact the kids.

Children that do not have sufficient parental guidance are more likely to be event to criminal task. Solitary moms working can be demanding for the entire household, because she is in charge of all the duties, child care, self-control, and also financial success in the home. Being a parent is hard sufficient when a couple shares the duty, doing an adequate work alone is virtually impossible.

The more brother or sisters a kid has the less specific attention the child will obtain from his/her parents. As a society, we invest less time with our offspring's than a lot of any other generation in background. Divorce has actually ended up being an epidemic as well as several women are solitary mothers by choice especially in the past. Most kids do not have a daddy in the house. Virtually of as lots of kids, do not even know that their father is or never ever see them often. Women intend to have all of it, job, youngsters, as well as flexibility. The family unit appears to play one of the most vital function in stopping in addition to creating juvenile delinquency.

"A child that has actually been sexually abused is more probable to escape than any other child" (Widom). This sexually mistreated kid escapes assuming he or she will certainly have a better life far from the abuser, "but typically, the runaway becomes a prostitute to endure" (Widom). Sexual assault, physical misuse, as well as overlook are 3 ways that a family members can aid a kid right into coming to be a juvenile delinquent. An individual is more likely to be abused by an enjoyed one or somebody understands to the person than by any other team of individuals (Thio).

Poor families struggle to place food on the table and many times youngsters feel disregarded or that the circumstances of the family is their mistake. Doing without the needs makes a youngster desire things he or she does not have, which can cause theft as well as various other such deviant acts. Destitution in this excellent nation is widespread. We are the best country on this Earth as well as yet we have children that are going hungry and in need of clothes. The inexpensive food is not the healthiest of choices in many cases. Financial worries trigger many households to separate in order to get support from the federal government.

Separation is often a cause for youngsters to end up being deviant. Peer stress has long been viewed as a reason for deviant actions in youngsters. Groupthink is where grownups as well as youths appear to lose their ability to act or speak in the proper manner the more individuals are in the group. The term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis (1972 ), takes place when a team makes malfunctioning decisions since group pressures bring about a degeneration of "psychological efficiency, reality screening, and ethical judgment"(Coon & Mitter). Satisfying the group and working as an entire instead as the sum of many components is what happens to when young people succumb to peer pressure. Peer pressure is among the hardest delinquencies to avoid.

Youngsters with physical as well as discovering specials needs are commonly ridiculed, which can often result in temper. Youths, that lag others of the same age academically, are prone to criminal habits. It is assumed the less smart a person is, the most likely to commit crime she or he will be. Cognitive feature is required to reasonably consider the consequences in situations and also realize what will certainly occur if you are captured doing a "poor" action.

Sleep quality has actually been connected to excessive weight in a poultry and also the egg type circumstance. Some say obesity is caused by an absence of sleep quality and other state the lack of sleep quality triggers a boost in excessive weight. Weight problems can be a factor for a young adult or adolescent to give in peer pressure to "fit" in with the team as well as join delinquent tasks. Youngsters who are overweight have a higher rate of clinical depression, which can lead some to a sensation of helplessness (News to Use).

Helplessness can lead to misbehavior because the child does not feel that anything she or he does is worthwhile any way. Obesity has raised rapidly and some even call it an epidemic. Head of state Obama authorized an expense into law giving the United States Department of Agriculture to set criteria for public college lunches in order to combat weight problems (Jalonick). Proof has revealed kids are much heavier currently than at any other time in the background of the United States. The graph below is a little old, however it reveals that in the year of 2002, obesity was around 16 percent in both kids and also adolescences.

D. Race

In an article in Family Court Review, C.S. Cooper looks critically at the trajectory set by juvenile drug user and offenders. She notes that frequently drug use begins with a young adult and grows into a more and more serious problem. She concludes that "a significant number of youth and young people have fallen through the cracks of our juvenile and adult justice system in terms of receiving any meaningful services" (Cooper). She goes on to say that in spite of the data like those numbers on slide 8, there is a lack of good information on juvenile drug use.

She asks, "Could an early response by the justice system break the cycle of what might otherwise become serious addictive behavior for these youth as they grow older?" (Cooper). She advocates several things to help juveniles before they enter the justice system and while they are in it: looking for red flags, screen for drug use and resiliency factors, revitalize and expand programs using the juvenile drug court model.

The research shows that the state capitol blends treatment and punishment for juvenile offenders. While the teens must serve their mandatory term of probation, time in a juvenile facility, or adult facility, ach of the cities Boise, Jackson, and Providence have treatment programs, which they hold up as an essential part of their work with juveniles. For example, in 2013, Boise/Ada County had fifty-nine students enrolled in Victory Academy. Thirty-seven of those students earned a GED/HSE/diploma or successfully transition to the work force (Ada County Juvenile Court System).

Similarly, Jackson, MS had programs under the umbrella of "Ending the school to prison pipeline" as well as system-wide reforms (Mississippi Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee).Finally, Providence has a the RI Training School, which provides: residential programming, structured academic programs, clinical and educational services (Juvenile Correctional Services). It seems that the therapeutic, counseling options for teens is increasing and recidivism remains a strong indicator of success or failure. Over time, however, some treatment programs have shown to decrease recidivism rates better than others programs and better than traditional punishment alone. Listwan writes, "Studies show that scared straight programs, DARE programs, and other similarly situated policies have little effect on recidivism" (Listwan). On the other hand, "teen court participants have lower recidivism rates" (Listwan). Finally, over and over the research proves that the more attention a teen gets, particularly in a treatment setting, the less risk he has of committing more crimes.

One example of this is probation officers with "smaller caseloads are able to dedicate more time to supervision and services and can be an effective option at reducing recidivism rates if the services are rehabilitative in nature" (Listwan). While punishment still seems necessary, authorities see the importance of treatment and continue to test the best methods for effective treatment. There are many theories that attempt to describe why juveniles commit crimes. Biological theories include the idea that people are "born criminals" and that it is innate in their nature (Listwan). A related theory is that of personality that certain personalities are more likely to commit crimes. A third type of biological theory is the Social Bonding theory, where a lack of proper bonding leads to abnormal and criminal behavior.

Next, psychological theories include Ration Choice Theory described as "those who engage in criminal behavior decide it is worth the risk of apprehension" (Listwan). A second is Absences of Control Theory, which explains irrational behavior.

Finally, there are many sociological theories, including: Social Disorganization, which "focuses on community deterioration and poverty"; General Strain theory where "strain increases the likelihood of crime"; and Cultural Deviance theory.

Almost all of the theories indicate that the juvenile is responding or reacting to something outside his control when he commits a crime: maybe it is his biological make-up, psychological lack or immaturity, or maybe sociological forces at work in his home or community. As these are often outside an offender's control, treatment is a better way to help him understand, overcome, leave, interpret his circumstances and the reason he committed the crime that he did.

Looking at the drug-related crimes in Boise, Jackson, and Providence leads me to the Life Skills Training as an excellent model for countering this particular crime. This strategy involves three areas of specific training and can be tailored according to the age of the offender. The areas are drug resistance training where "students are educated about drugs and taught skills for dealing with peer pressure" (Listwan). The second area is self-control skills training. In this area, youth are "taught to critically analyze situations, recognize their consequences, and develop strategies for dealing with them effectively (Listwan). Finally, general skills training are where "students are taught to develop general social skills including communication, assertiveness, and anger management" (Listwan,). These three areas of the Life Skills Training Model reflect the elements found the programs of Boise, Jackson, and Providence.

I believe treatment is the concept that best supports the over-arching concept of social justice. After looking at the history of the juvenile justice system, especially some of the extreme methods, it seems that treatment is a better way to help juveniles, who have many years ahead of them, choose a different path than a life tied up in the justice and criminal system.

Works Cited

  • (2014). CountyAEs juvenile crime cases continue to fall; Numbers from 2013 reflect a downward trend seen across Minnesota and the nation.
  • Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN). Retrieved from
  • Ada County Juvenile Court Services. "A Report Card to Our Stakeholders." (2013). Retrieved from
  • Portals/0/JVCT/Doc/Report Card 2013.pdf.
  • Cooper, C. S. (2009). SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND ADDICTION IN Behavior, 38(6), 580-591. Accessed from
  • US Census Bureau's American Fact Finder. "ACS Demographic and Housing Estimates: Boise, ID." Retrieved from
  • US Census Bureau's American Fact Finder. "ACS Demographic and Housing Estimates: Jackson, MS." Retrieved from
  • US Census Bureau's American Fact Finder. "ACS Demographic and Housing Estimates: Providence RI." Retrieved from
  • Yero, A., Othman, J., Samah, B.A., D'Silva, J. L., &Sulaiman, A.H. (2012).
  • RE-VISITING CONCEPT AND THEORIES OF COMMUNITY POLICING. International Journal of Academic Research, 4(4), 51-55. doi:10.7813/2075-4124.2012/4-4/B.7. Retrieved from:
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The Choice between Treatment and Punishment in the Juvenile Justice System. (2022, Dec 13). Retrieved April 22, 2024 , from

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