The reality and repercussions of juvenile violence and juvenile crime are continuing issues within the country and have driven political and legislative agenda in almost every echelon of the government. One of the most pressing concerns is the topic of juvenile rehabilitation. There is, at present, a growing movement that seeks to put an emphasis on rehabilitation within the justice system, particularly in cases of juvenile delinquency. The current judicial system is one that places more emphasis on the degree of punishment than the use of rehabilitation.
Many juvenile offenders, most of whom still carry the potential to turn their lives around, are lost in a system that relies on the severity of sentencing to alter criminal behavior instead of actively implementing rehabilitative programs. The nation’s justice system must lay emphasis on the rehabilitation of juvenile criminal offenders and set up substitute methods that prepare offenders to reenter society as functioning, productive citizens.
This essay will inform readers of the inability of the current judicial system in providing adequate systems of modifying criminal behavior, especially those of the more impressionable juvenile offenders. It upholds, as well, any provision involving behavior modification through rehabilitative measures. According to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, the basic difference between the criminal justice system and the juvenile justice system is that rehabilitation has, since the juvenile justice system’s creation, been the chief goal for youth offenders.
However, shifting public opinions in the past few decades have been geared towards a “tough on crime stance” that have led to modifications in the handling of juvenile delinquents (CJCJ, 2006, http://www. cjcj. org/jjic/reforming. php). Over the years, there has been a continuous increase in the number of states that have lowered the age requirement for juveniles to be transferred or waivered into criminal court. Most states have also implemented “measures to ‘get tough’ with violent juvenile offenders” (OJJDP, 2006, http://ojjdp.
ncjrs. org/pubs/reform/ch1_a. html). Meanwhile, studies have shown that there will be a significant rise in the occurrence of juvenile crime, driven mainly by changing demographics of race and age, and the “increased arrests of juveniles for serious and violent crime over the past 10 years” (OJJDP, 2006, http://ojjdp. ncjrs. org/pubs/reform/ch1_a. html). The aim of organizations and bureaus such as the California Youth Authority is to “protect the public from criminal activity” (CJCJ, 2006, http://www. cjcj. org/jjic/reforming. php).
But before this can be accomplished, the government and the public need to rededicate their efforts to juvenile rehabilitation. Juvenile justice is the branch of criminal law “applicable to persons not old enough to be held responsible for criminal acts” (Wex, 2006, http://www. law. cornell. edu/wex/index. php/Juvenile_justice). In the majority of US states, this means that individuals under the age of 18 are bound by the tenets of juvenile justice. Nonetheless, youth offenders can be transferred into adult court “if the juvenile court waives or relinquishes its jurisdiction” (Wex, 2006, http://www.
law. cornell. edu/wex/index. php/Juvenile_justice). According to the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act, juvenile delinquency is “any act that is otherwise a crime, but is committed by someone under 18 years of age” (Wex, 2006, http://www. law. cornell. edu/wex/index. php/Juvenile_justice). Juvenile rehabilitation is under the jurisdiction of the juvenile criminal court, the primary aim of which is to rehabilitate youth offenders instead of incarcerating them. Some states have been able to effectively implement juvenile rehabilitation.
The goal of the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration of Washington State’s Department of Social and Health Services is to respond to and prevent juvenile crime. Their focus is on “helping young offenders develop, mature, and become confident, competent, responsible adults” (Shabaka, 2006, http://www1. dshs. wa. gov/jra/index. shtml). This is achieved through a program that consists of “prevention, secure institutions, a military style basic training camp, minimum security community based residential facilities, and family focused parole aftercare” (Shabaka, 2006, http://www1.dshs. wa. gov/jra/index. shtml).
The Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration has also developed their Integrated Treatment Model or ITM. The ITM is an evidence-based program that makes use of such elements as Mentoring, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Family Integrative Transition. The JRA reports that since employing the Integrated Treatment Model, incidents of assault in JRA institutions have decreased by a remarkable 60%.