Improvements in Juvenile Justice

Let’s just face it; there is a great amount of room for improvement in the juvenile justice department. There will always be room for improvement and I don’t believe that anything can be exactly perfect but there are improvements that can always be made as we learn over time what works and what does not work. Also, I believe that there are further things that can be done to decrease crime rates among juveniles. Through learning about juvenile justice this quarter and researching possible strategies for improvements, I have come up with three basic ideas.

We could re-evaluate the way we look at and deal with juveniles, create even more facilities or programs, increase education about the system and juvenile crimes that happens in communities, and expand investigations into juvenile crime. If these ideas are executed and combined there is a chance that we could, in fact, improve and expand the juvenile justice system. The first problem that I’ve noticed and has stood out to me was the way the system handles out-of-control youths, whether they are just minor status offenders or true delinquents.

With the popularity of strict guidelines and plans that the system uses, the system has no way truly dealing with out-of-control juveniles. This often causes a lot of conflicting interests, which can make the juvenile and the worker (or person with the authority and power) in the same way feel conflicted, overwhelmed, and frustrated. The child’s parents often feel the results of this and it often gets thrown off on them. The system might also take out their frustration or stress on the parents or guardians.

In my opinion, the reason that out-of-control and unruly youths get the way they are has to do with procedures and how they are dealt with on a day-to-day basis. The longer it takes the system to process the children, the more anger, worry, and frustration it causes to the child. This also does nothing but escalates and increases and could cause even more harm and crimes committed. Chronic, violent, and serious offenders might feel like they can get away with anything that they want to at the beginning very often because they might not be receiving any punishment that scares them or deters them from committing other crimes right away.

I also think that there is a lack of facilities and programs available to juveniles today. Not all children need to be completely removed from society in order to ensure protection of the community and to protect other children like themselves, all while keeping the “best interest of the child” a number one priority. The court doesn’t need to get involved in all cases. Instead, I believe that more youths can be referred back to their families or programs that keep the whole community in mind.

A popular answer to dealing with juvenile crime and violence in the past was to employ and implement intense sentences and harsh penalties for some of the offenders. This is just a quick fix and this approach will not work. The real problem lays deep within and incarceration and harsh penalties alone will not even begin to uncover the real problems that these children are dealing with. Most juveniles and their families need more support than that can provide. Contemporary and upbeat educational programs or programs that would take a child’s mind on better things would be helpful.

These should catch the child’s eye and make them want to try the program out for themselves. If they think they are just going to fall through with a plain and boring program they will not be motivated to learn or become a better person. This is their future that will be affected. There also needs to be more than one type of program, as one single program or activity will not work for everyone. Schools could do their part in really encouraging after school or extracurricular programs.

This would be a positive place for them to make friends and this would give them something to do afterschool so they might not feel compelled to turn to delinquency out of sheer boredom or for something exciting to do. This would require a substantial amount of money and support from our government but in my opinion it would be worth every single penny spent. I know that schools do have programs like these now but maybe they should create more that will interest every social group.

If nothing else works, the system should resort to bringing back older programs that have been used in the past, such as placing out or wilderness camps. In addition to the expansion of programs, our local communities should be better educated to both juvenile crime and crime in general. I’m not saying that we should do away with international news or news specific to the USA, but there should be more emphasis put on local news, whether it be in the form of television stations, magazines, newsletters, or a local radio station.

This would make the whole community alert to their actual surroundings and crimes that are happening in their back yards-not just the police and state officials. I feel that juveniles think the communities where they live are in a way naive to what crimes they might commit. This comforts them in a way and if the local neighborhoods and communities are more informed this wouldn’t have that cover to make them feel safe while being delinquent. The last idea that came to mind has to deal with the investigative process.

Attentiveness with investigations could prevent some juvenile crime altogether by looking into people who might possibly aid and provide different things to children. These adults should face their actions, as they are committing serious crimes. Some examples of situations like this would be an adult providing alcohol or drugs (whether to sell or use) to juveniles or an adult that provides transportation for children who want to run away. If law enforcement officials are capable to track down these adults, formally charge them, and incarcerate them it would help out tremendously.

If the juvenile’s suppliers or aids are put behind bars, it will become more and more difficult to do the crimes that got them into trouble to begin with. Maybe this will put them in the mindset that it isn’t worth trying harder to get whatever it is that they might need or want that is illegal. We might need to look past the actual juveniles committing crimes for a moment. Now that I have better educated myself on the real problems that face the juvenile justice system I understand more thoroughly what might be able to be done to help improve the process and the system as a whole.

The juvenile justice system could improve through re-evaluating the way we deal with juveniles, creating more facilities and programs, better education the local communities, and undergoing more investigative tasks. I have acquired a lot of information through my research that I did not previously know. I would recommend that this be an assignment in the future to other students because it forces them to use critical thinking skills and think a great deal on the topic to come up with things to discuss.