Over about more than a decade, Cook County, Illinois held the first juvenile court system in 1899. Prior to the juvenile court system children were seen as “miniature adults” causing them to be tried and punished as adults were. However, improvements in the understanding of a child’s development and the push for sympathized sentencing altered the whole system. The juvenile system had then realized that children who commit crimes are less blameworthy and have a higher chance for change.
This is especially for children who are first offenders. Fortunately, rather than placing minors in harsh jails with adults, the early juvenile courts established the probation system. This system significantly separates rehabilitation and incarceration facilities and provide minors with higher supervision and guidance. Although it is often offered to the delinquents, many often violate the probation, leading themselves back to the facility. This program has helped juvenile crime rates decrease steadily since the 1990’s. But, there are still things that are needed to be focused on in the juvenile justice system in order to prevent children from going down that lonely dark path .
“Children are the greatest treasure. They are the future”, states a quote by Nelson Mandela, freedom fighter who would become South Africa’s first black president. The life we live in is a cycle, therefore, it falls into the hands of children who will either build the world to be stronger or tear it down. The juvenile system is created as a chance for delinquents to understand their mistakes while facing consequences.
Throughout these consequences, it is hoped that the juveniles are able to redeem themselves in order to maintain a positive life, however, these children are not just in need of discipline. in general, the system has not been seen as effective in addressing the important needs of youths in detention. Many detained juveniles are in need of care as they suffer from battles within themselves such as having to deal with family problems, traumatic events and or drastic changes in life. This only creates more and more of a barrier upon him/her. Yet, sadly, the ethnicity that lacks the most support after coming home from the juvenile system is Black youth.
One of the biggest concerns that move many individuals is, the racial disparity between Whites and minorities in these facilities. Although there are many different ethnicities inside of the juvenile system , it is mainly made up of minorities. Black youths lack most support while going into and coming out of the juvenile system. Based on statistics collected in 2015 and from The Department of Justice, The Black youth as a whole is more than 4 times likely to be incarcerated. In the state of New Jersey, Wisconsin, Montana, Delaware, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, African Americans youth are 10 times likely to be held in placement than Whites. Most minorities who are detained, plan to come home with a fixed mindset which is to do better. Sadly, this is not always promised when there is not a positive support system The mission of my project is to bring awareness to this problem throughout society which would move more programs to assists troubled minorities who are in need of support and care.
Between the years of 1997 and 2015, the percentage of minorities, Whites, and Black youth has decreased significantly. Yet, the incarceration rate of black youths are overall higher than each ethnicity. This has caused many eyebrows to raise throughout society and the government overall. Why had there been a huge gap between these ethnicities throughout the United States? How could awareness be brought to this problem in order to change the statistics? The mission of the juvenile justice system is to create reserved discipline plan for juveniles who are troubled and commit crimes as a delinquent. Because these individuals are still children under the age of 18, it is very important that they are not harshly consequenced. This is a significant factor in the creation of the juvenile system. The juvenile system was created more than a century ago, suggested to separate children’s penalties from adults. Although these children committed the same crime that adults may indulge in, it is important that the system takes it into great consideration that these juveniles are either still developing as adults and or suffer from a lack of support which will only lead them towards the system..
So, exactly, how are these children lacking support? Support could go vary from teachers, to parents to probation officers. One of ten African American children have a parent who is incarcerated. Sadly, this increases the chances of the child being incarcerated as well. Having a parent that is incarcerated could influence children to feel as if they are obligated to be the support for either themselves or their families, this ranges mostly in young men. Furthmore, these individuals become a product of the percentages of children who indulge in illegal activities that provide them with money. Although African American men are no more likely to sell drugs than White men, they are often sentenced 50 percent longer than whites.
Children with parents who deal drugs or are less fortunate, are more likely to be detained for selling drugs as well. Therefore this is only an continuing cycle. Most times, children who have their first attempt, are referred to a probation sentence. The probation system was created as rehabilitation and supervision for individuals who have committed crimes but have a clean enough history to prevent hem from being incarcerated. Probation is a way to provide individuals with freedom while walking on ice. If granted probation, the juvenile must ensure they are not including themselves in any trouble that could potentially lead them to being detained. Unfortunately, 56 percent of Black youth in the United States violate their probation term, having 20 percent of that portion taken back into custody. Yet, 20 percent of whites violate their probation, with only 9 percent being taken into custody.
When suspected of a crime, the procedure and sentencing for minors is different than the sentencing procedure of adults. All states have created a special juvenile court system for minors who get into trouble with the law. When taken to court, one of the post important things that is looked at, is the support system of the child. If the judge’s sentiment is that individual will not be accompanied by positive surroundings who will push them to do better there is a mild chance that the child be detained depending on the severity of the crime. Although support is a pro in juvenile system , there are also many toxic types of support. This support include parents who kick their children out of their homes and close friends or family that indulge in the negative actions of the delinquent.
Overall, African American parents are six times likely to kick their children out of their homes before the ages of 18. African American males who are affected by this problem have higher chances of being detained as they are trying to make ends meet.
This introduces the problem of employment for minorities who are under the age of 18. Because many jobs require for you to be 18 or older, it makes it extremely hard for children who are minorities to be applicable for a job. However, although there are some jobs who accept minors, racial profilin occurring throughout many jobs when applying, making it an even harder task when applying for a job. Although being employed could help many of these troubled individuals, Faster money is more reliable in assisting themselves everyday with food, transportation and even clothing.
A huge trend that had been seen within system is a pattern of the same juveniles being detained, not once, twice, or three times, but more. Questions vary through the judges and the correctional officers of why? However, the response these juveniles give is why not? Raising eyebrows of the whole system. Unfortunately, many of the juveniles who come in and out of the system believe that is not only safer but a shelter for them which provides three meals a day. This shows that after the they leave the detention center they are not left with any of the right support that they are needed.
Sadly, some repeat offenders may never feel the need to change as they develop a mindset that there is a lack of hope of hope within their lives. Many of these troubled children live from a day to day bases, hoping that they will get to the next day.
Black youth are instantly seen as targets in urban and suburban communities. Thus creating them to be five times as likely to be incarcerated than whites. Many people believe that race is an immediate targeter in social status which influences how officials observation and establishment of the child’s case. For example, Cicourel’s 1968 Analysis of Juvenile Courts suggests, “Minorities are more likely than whites to be seen as disrespectful of authority and, in particular, disrespectful of court officials. This evidence proves the stigma towards black youth resulting in the justice system being more strict towards cases. Despite white children having similar offense histories and characteristics, and often are seen as more threatening, dangerous and more likely to be detained again.
For black children, crime is looked at as an attitudinal trait. Yet, among White youth, crimes that they commit, are seen to be mostly made from external environments. These environments include parents who are unsupportive and are verbally and physically abusive, Drug abuse, and poor influence of peers. Overall, this disproportionate percentage of minorities automatically sends a signal that we need to look closer into society to understand how it is treating our minority youth. The odds are instantly placed against minorities in many communities.
The discrimination towards the sentencing of black youth is very common throughout the system. The mental health of a colored juvenile is underestimated and lacks sympathy or concerning throughout the juvenile justice system. This included PTSD, Depression, and overall stress within themselves. In many urban communities, someone who struggle with mental health is is seen as someone who is “crazy”. Yet, mental health is a huge factor when sentencing juveniles. Unsurprisingly, minorities (especially blacks) are more likely to be detained in a juvenile facility awaiting their judicial hearing, rather than the white youth who are placed in mental health facilities that are for mental health. Like stated before, crimes that minorities commit are not seen as mental health issues. This is one of the biggest problems throughout society as black youth are being oppressed. How will these children get the support that is needed if they are not granted with the right type of support that other ethnicities are granted with?
According to the Article, Juvenile Justice:Racial Disparities In Incarceration Starts Early, published by Alfonso Serrano, it states. “At every stage of justice involvement, youth of color face disadvantages—over policing of their communities, criminalization of their behavior in schools, and a greater likelihood of being tried as adults and held in adult jails,” report author Wendy Sawyer told Colorlines. “If we want to end the overcriminalization of people of color, we need to take steps to help youth—especially Black and Native youth—avoid confinement, which is traumatic and can lead to further justice involvement down the line.”, this supports the fact that the black youth are less likely to get the help and support that they are needed and while this problem occurs, the rate of minorities in the juvenile system will continue to rapidly increase.
It starts with the education system. Being suspended and given up on. Other than parents, one of the major influences of children, are the teachers and mentors. School hours take most of the day, therefore, on average, any child in school spends most time around teachers. Most of the feedback that children get are from teachers. Depending on the child that feedback may be a huge impact to the characteristics of the. A myriad of students act based off of the way they are treated by the staff inside of schools. While troubled students tend to fall behind and get suspended frequently, it is likely that teachers give up on them, and labeling them as someone who will not succeed. Unfortunately, this is likely to happen in urban communities where there are minorities. This is one of the first causes juvenile delinquency.
The purpose of my project is to address the lack of support that is given to male minorities when coming out of the juvenile justice system. We live in a world where the youth is the future. It is up to the children to either build the future or tear it down. Therefore, it is especially important to make sure these teenagaers/young adults are going down the right path. Yet, this first starts giving each child equality in support and help that they are needed. Although some may see it as inconsequential, the hate you give infants will hurt everyone. Knowing that this is one of the most important aspects when trying to lead children is significant. “What you feed us as seeds, grows and blows up in your face.” Tupac Shakur states. In my project, I will include male teenagers who are minorities and have been in the juvenile system. This will help me develop an insight of how they are treated after leaving the facility.
Specific steps that I will take in order to accomplish this mission is emailing the Camden County Youth Detention Center asking if there is a way that I could interview both, a corrections officer and a child who is currently incarcerated or have been detained. I will then the explain my claim to each individual and ask for opinions, explanations and if they either agree or disagree with my claim that the black youth lacks support in the juvenile system. This will be the right course of action because I will be given information from an actual juvenile delinquent and someone who experiences the actions of troubled children come in and out of the facility almost everyday. Next, I will accept perspectives from different sources such as, children who have repeatedly fell down the same path of delinquency but are currently living on the outside. After figuring out what type of support that the children lack, I will be determined to come up with a plan to in order decrease their urge of being incarcerated.
After interviewing each person and gathering their opinions and suggestions, I will bring awareness to the mass incarceration of black youth and suggest to them the different places where they could be given the support that they are needed in order to be successful throughout the the rest of their lives. The places that are suggested are programs that assist you with extracurricular activities, meals and workers who are close to counselors. If these children are committed to the programs and push themselves to have a better lifestyle, it may become a norm and encourage them to change their lives more day by day. Although there are more suggestions that these programs could use in order to be an effective support system to the minorities in the community, it is the first step in helping the troubled Black youth.
I believe that my project will resolve the minority juvenile incarceration rate which may help the future adult incarceration rate. Many minorities have higher chances of being jailed because of the lack of support that they have which only results in these children developing a careless and nonchalant mindset. Some potential problems that could hinder my methodology is my participants becoming frustrated and not wanting to participate anymore or contribute to the project making the test lack information.
After doing different interviews, Here is some feedback that had been given to me by young black males who were detained in the juvenile justice system throughout a period of their lifetime. The questions that are asked are not reserved. Instead they go in debt about to gain more information about the individual’s life. Some individuals ask for their identity to remain anonymous.
“Nah, When I was 16 my mom kicked me out, and i went to a school where they would wear nice clothes. So I started selling drugs for my older cousin, because that’s like what I wanted.” “I did get arrested. Spent a couple months in juvenile detention, and went to a drug counseling program 3 times a week after school. But I didn’t complain that much, cause it would help me really stay out of the streets. I had a schedule so it kept me some type of level headed.”
“No, what really made my downfall was a time where I was with my friends and they was supposed to be taking me to south philly, and they told me I had to take a run. I mean I didn’t know what the move was but I knew it was a signal to be ready ,like we ready bust a move. So I got ready, we drove, and we pulled up at a store, and they robbed the store. We was getting chased by helicopters and cops. That set me back for 3 years. I have a felony gun charge.” This person is a 21 years old black male.. He’d been in and out of the juvenile system since he had been in middle school. The reason for his being to sell drugs was because the lack of support that been given to him by his family. Leading him to going and looking for support from the wrong places.
Tayonna:I am calling because I am currently working on a senior project called Change The World. The project is based on juveniles lacking support in and out of the juvenile system which prevents them from actually getting on the right path to do better. So, I was wondering if there was any way that I could do an over the phone interview with at least 2-3 juveniles to gather information from them in order to contribute to my project?
Correctional Officer (O’neal): Okay Ma’am, we have a policy which will unfortunately prevent you from doing those interviews because of confidential reasons. Tayonna:Oh wow, well, Thank you Mr.Oneal, have a nice day! Although I was denied access to interviews, I believe that this small conversation itself supports my claim. However, in my own opinion if an individual trying to reach out to the youth who are currently under oppression, It is important that they are listened to. Yet, I was denied that access.
“Do you feel that the juvenile system does good in supporting and caring for the minority youth?
“No I do not feel like the juvenile system cares about giving black youths support.”
What are some things you experienced in the detention center which made you feel this way?
From my perspective, I was in a jail called Jamesburg, for juveniles who are serving more severe sentences, and they would treat us like animals. we would have correctional officers who would set us up. it was like a dog fight. They would make us fight each other if one of us were to disrespect them. They would tell us we gone end up in the same place cause they know that no one really cared for us. It was just a bunch of things, like it felt like a never ending dream. I didn’t understand how police officers, the ones who were supposed to protect you, would place you in a bad predicament. If you could tell one thing to the juvenile who are in the same situation that you are in, facing a sentence, feeling like they have no hope at all, what would you tell them? I would tell them that they aren’t animals. They have a future and it is in their hands and even though the system is literally set to go against us as black men, it is our decision to beat those odds.
In this interview, I spoke to a black male who is currently 19 years old. This individual had served a two year sentence in three different juvenile facilities. He stressed to me the different types of disrespect that he felt while being detained, the lack of courage that they had in the young men, and the trials and tribulations that he’d experienced throughout the facility.
Overall the lack of support that is given to the black will continue to negatively impact more communities and juvenile detention centers. The hate you give to the youth will ruin everyone. The youth are the future. That hate will turn into the harsh decisions that they tend to make starting early. After gathering all of the research and learning about the horrible experiences that the juveniles who were interviewed had to undergo, I have realized, that the juvenile justice system does not prepare these individuals for success. Instead, these children are being damaged and traumatized. Children in these facilities are being made to think they are less than what they are, creating them to be monsters. Although there are many different programs which are intended to assist the youth, they are not actually being effective to these children. The black youth is immediately targeted as aggressive and disrespectful, which suggests them to be excessively punished.
Although these children are incarcerated, they are still learning to develop into young adults. To prevent the past from haunting their future, it is important that communities are equipped with different programs and systems that are successful in supporting shelters, counselors, meals, and mentors that could assist in helping to get jobs. These are things that could help the individuals in need of shelter when they are kicked out of their homes, ones who are homeless and have no clue when the next time they are going to have a meal, ones who are currently battling problems within themselves and lastly, those who are in need of legal income. Pride may play a huge factor in the lives of young black men. They are usually told to be strong and never cry because they are men. Yet, there are so many things that break and shatter these young men in the dark. The system may believe that all black men incarcerated are dangerous black men. However, the most dangerous black man is one who is is supported, successful and prospering and that is what the system is afraid of.