Societyhas come to rely on the juvenile justice system to deal with youth offenderswho have many of the same issues as adult offenders: Substance abuse, physicalviolence, trauma, and mental illnesses. About 70% of juvenile offenders sufferfrom these addictions or problems.
Obviously when youth commit offenses theadults must take action and respond. Too often though, the response does moreharm than good.Inthe 1990’s juvenile crime spiked nationally to its peak and caused all arounddebate.
The main argument was whether the juvenile system should be lock thekids up and be done with them or give them a second chance and go through rehabilitation.The problem with the juvenile system is who ends up there. Studies show that majority of the kids whoget locked up are from a bad household and/or in poverty. What is worse is thatthat majority of the juvenile system is made up of African Americans, Latinos,and Native Americans. These 3 ethnic groups are five times more likely to getarrested and do tome than white kids.Over200,000 juveniles have been held in adult county jails and prisons. When theywere released they faced the after effects of being traumatized from the olderinmates. A lot of them become more violent and have a hard time finding andkeeping a job.
Some of the juveniles have became accustomed to the system andhave a hard time adjusting back to being in society. Children that are sent toadult systems face extreme and hard conditions. They are reportedly abused andmistreated by adult prisoners and have a 30% more of a chance of re-offendingwhen released into the community.Anumber of states have laws that allow them to try juveniles as adults oncertain crimes. In 31 of those states kids under the age of 14 can be tried asadults. Worse, 14 of those states actually don’t have an age limit for tryingjuveniles as adults.
Not everyonebelieves in trying kids as an adult. Many believe that the juvenile justicesystem is wrong for doing so.Over50,000 kids are detained in the juvenile justice system.
A lot of the kidshaven’t committed a violent crime either. Pre adjudication detention facilitiesre running out of room to hold the youth.as the rate of crimes committed byjuveniles continues to climb, so does the amount of juvenile detentionfacilities having to be built, causing taxes to go towards the price ofconstruction.Juvenilesshould be held accountable the first time they offend. This will ensure thecommunities safety. The youth should be helped and not punished because studiesshow that keeping the youth locked up doesn’t help them either afterwards.There are youth programs all around America that try to keep at-risk youth fromending up in jail and/or prison. They try to prevent them from engaging inviolent behavior, joining gangs, and getting involved in drugs by creatingalternatives that don’t take the kids life away.
For example, take a curfew.It’s there to limit how late the public stay out. This may seem dumb but it canactually keep youth from committing crimes because a lot of crimes actuallyhappen at night.Lockingjuveniles up may stop the rate of crime at the time because they are isolatedaway from the public, but actually makes the kids worse because all they willknow is the system. All it will do is make the crimes worse when they getreleased and will just be adult offenders and could possibly be more violent. IfAmerica wants an effective juvenile justice system, they must create andenforce and utilize rehabilitation programs.
The programs must help youthbecome capable, responsible, productive citizens.