The issue of trying juveniles as adults becomes something of a horrendous ordeal when it becomes apparent the types of crimes committed against juveniles in detention centers, and adult prisons. In Juvenile Crime Opposing Viewpoints, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice states in their article, Fewer Juveniles Should Be Tried as Adults, states, Significant findings are based on comparisons of youth and adult treatment of juveniles in the area of corrections and on comparisons of recidivism rates in the two systems.
Juveniles in adult institutions are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted, twice as likely to be beaten by staff, and fifty percent more likely to be attacked with a weapon than youths in a juvenile facility. The same studies also indicate a much lower rating of counseling programs, of efforts to improve family relations, and of medical care in adult corrections than in juvenile institutions. (Coalition for Juvenile Justice 1997, 184).
The point of sending a juvenile into corrections is to prevent them from committing crimes and to get them temporarily away from the lifestyle enough so that when they return to normal life they are not inclined to be attached to the same delinquent behavior; placing juveniles into an institute where they are five times more likely to be assaulted or be the victims of crime, prevents the system from having any positive effect on the delinquent.
Being at the brute end of a crime has just as much psychological effect on a child as committing a crime, and in this instance of having a fifty percent more chance of being assaulted in an adult facility than in a juvenile corrections facility should also dissuade any court system from trying juveniles as adults instead of having them pay the same price as adults for the same crime committed.
Both counseling and alternative rehabilitation would be far more effective than sending a child criminal to jail with the ‘hardened’ criminals. The instance of trying to rehabilitate a juvenile delinquent is difficult because they may not be as susceptible to being a working member of society if they are so extremely exposed to crime, as they would be in an adult facility, as the Coalition for Juvenile Justice states,
We do need to focus more as a society on the recapture of a sense of personal responsibility and adherence to simple virtue…And we should not abandon a juvenile justice system that has numerous models of programs that work in order to access an adult criminal justice system that is financially and programmatically bankrupt…where trial as an adult is necessary as a last resort for those hard-core youth who commit the most serious crimes, the method of selection must be objective and rational, and they should be placed in correctional institutions that are humane, safe, and enriched with programs to give youthful inmates a chance to be good citizens in the future. (Coalition for Juvenile Justice 1997, 186)
The statistics in regards to juvenile delinquents and committing crimes once out of jail are staggering. Rehabilitation works as long as there is an appropriate strong support system to assist the child once out of jail. This support system is, as mentioned, made up of family members, neighbors, and the school system. Once released from jail, the juvenile delinquent is far more likely to repeat their crimes because they are lacking this system and because they have just been witness to the life of crime in jail, and by extension they focus their values on how well they can commit their crimes.
There is of course not one single program that proves itself the better of any existing program when it comes to delinquent behavior rehabilitation, but that should not dissuade any society from enforcing in the juvenile system different avenues of treatment. The programs being set up (after school, community service, etc. ) give the juvenile delinquent a different focus in their life, which helps them psychologically, and emotionally. Helping out at a troubled child center, building homes, having a steady job where something more is expected of them, all aid in developing a sense of moral uprightness for the juvenile. The principles learned in such programs are multifaceted and prove to be instructional and of great value the longer the duration the juvenile is involved (Campbell 1997).
A prime example of negative reports occurring with juvenile crime, and on which may be misleading in its guise to ease the mind of society and allow them to feel safe and that something is being done with juvenile crime, Campbell states, Although crime in Canada is on the decline, changes in police practices have resulted in increased reporting of crime among the young, giving the perception of an upward trend. The tendencies are now to report offending activities which were once considered minor and were dealt with outside the justice system, to put more youth in custody, and to favor punishment and deterrence rather than leniency and rehabilitation (Campbell 1997,1).
In this case, the driving force of fear has society riled up against alternative rehabilitation and they want to send juveniles straight to jail so that they are not out on the streets supposedly committing more crime, and allowed to commit more crime because the justice system didn’t lock them up the first time.
This sentiment is absurd in its reality; it fosters negative emotions towards the hopes of a juvenile becoming rehabilitated and only adds frustration and un-resolve towards the issue of what to do with juvenile offenders. The at-risk youth need to be rehabilitated and, as stated, being tried as an adult is no alternative, and being incarcerated without a chance of parole and vanquishing the bonds between self and society only furthers the delinquent’s belief in crime being the only way that pays. Campbell gives an introduction to a different regime in regard to crime prevention after rehabilitation: