Effectiveness of Juvenile Justice

Every night in the United States, thousands of children fall asleep behind bars. In fact, the majority of them are non-violent offenders responsible for the crimes which would not count as offences if these minors were adults. In America, it is possible to arrest a child for skipping school, breaking a curfew, or absconding home. The question is, “Is it worth it?” Contrary to popular belief, juvenile justice system is not perfect, and in many cases, it is not favorable to children who stepped on the wrong path. Therefore, this paper will define the effectiveness of the juvenile justice system in the USA. It includes examples of criminal cases of four minors as well as statistical data that support the outlined findings. This paper will also attempt to investigate whether processing juvenile offenders as adults is an effective method. The effectiveness of juvenile justice can be defined as the ability of judicial system to rehabilitate and reeducate those adolescents who committed crimes as well as prevent them from repeating their wrongdoings in the future. The effectiveness of the juvenile justice can manifest itself in different ways depending on the criteria taken into account. Its main purpose has to be an appropriate response to criminal behavior of young generation in legal and moral terms. Generally speaking, there are several ways in which one can measure and assess the effectiveness of the current juvenile system. Firstly, it is possible to consider it as a fulfillment of crime victim’s desire to retaliate. In one of the criminal cases, Manny, a gang member who participated in a beating of a pregnant lady, had to serve nine years in the state prison. Undoubtedly, the family of this particular victim, as well as others, had their wish for retaliation satisfied. Secondly, one can also assess the effectiveness of the juvenile system by means of deterring the youth from becoming involved in crime again. In the case of Marquese, a seventeen-year-old adolescent, it was rather obvious that something went wrong since he was in and out of jail for many years on the charges of theft. Moreover, this situation is akin to Manny’s since before beating the pregnant woman, he faced accusations of rape. Such recidivism is a prominent indicator of the failing juvenile justice system. Thus, reincarceration, as well as rearrest and readjudication cases carry much weight while analyzing the effectiveness of juvenile justice system. Primarily, this is because delinquency prevention seems to be its most important goal. With the help of the data on the quantity of arrests, conviction and re-incarceration cases, it is rather easy to identify whether the juvenile justice system has its flaws. Another thing that may assist in measuring the effectiveness of the juvenile justice system is its ability to change behavior of the newly formed criminals. Among the most common ways to alter the behavioral patterns of the minors are therapy, anger management, and vocational training. Regarding Jose’s case, owing to kind people, he managed to enter school but eventually found himself under arrest for probation violation. Apparently, apart from vocational training he also needed therapy since his family that abused illegal substances abandoned him when they had a chance. Shawn is another example of a child who obviously had some psychological disturbance as he did not remember how he stabbed his father while sleepwalking. However, unlike Jose, he received private counseling sessions and had to visit Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Even though counselors created all these conditions to facilitate his rehabilitation, he still violated probation terms. Therefore, it is logical to infer that there are some other factors that one should take into consideration while trying to help juvenile offenders. . Finally, one more factor that may prove to be helpful in assessing the effectiveness of the juvenile justice system is the methods of control and supervision of youth. They include keeping children in special schools, detention centers, and youth prisons. The system obviously made a mistake in case of Marquese when it allowed his aunt, who served time for a murder, to take him into custody. However, it would have been a better idea to send him to a safer and more favorable environment. The juvenile justice system also failed to help Shawn since while he was in detention facility, he was under compulsion to participate in oral sex, which in turn may have influenced his mental state and prompted his further recidivism. Many people argue that processing juvenile offenders as adults may be beneficial, but it is not always the case. The fact that they probably forget is that children are different. They are often too emotional or irrational because of the special period in their life – puberty. During this time, they are also prone to submission, and that is why it is easy for a criminal element to influence them. Adults, on the other hand, clearly understand the consequences of their actions. In the past, the court for juvenile offenders took place without any lawyers, prosecutors, or witnesses and a judge managed to resolve a case only by means of a casual conversation. This is because children’ psychology is different, and, therefore, interrogation techniques have to be special. Even though at 16 intellectual abilities of adolescents are at their peak, their psychosocial development continues into early adulthood. This means that it is definitely not beneficial to apply the same principles to correct adult’s and adolescent’s behavior. The former ones are fully formed and, therefore, fully responsible for their actions, while children are not. Even though the juvenile justice system has a noble intention to change behavior of adolescents and reeducate them about what is wrong and what is right, it is not very effective in the USA. If it were, the number of underage inmates would gradually decrease years after its introduction, but currently the reality is different. In many cases, juvenile detention centers have a negative impact on mental and social development of a young individual. About 70 percent of all adolescents in the juvenile justice system struggle with mental health issues. And this is not surprising, since because of emotionally volatile behavior they can be held in a solitary confinement. Such punishment in many ways is similar to torture, but it is considered acceptable in America. Instead of helping the individual, it just feeds the cycle of distrust, violence, and fear since a child leaves a facility even more damaged than before entrance. Additionally, statistically speaking, 60 percent of children who commit suicide in detention center have been to solitary confinement before. Clearly, juvenile delinquents are too fragile and sensitive to serve in an adult prison. Confinement does not teach them a lesson, and, for this reason, government should introduce an alternative solution. To conclude, it is hard to identify the exact rite of passage from being incompetent child in need of supervision to the point of being totally autonomous adult with certain moral values. The concept of adolescence and especially its beginning and end are difficult to define. It is a common knowledge that during adolescence children are prone to commit a crime. Unfortunately, the current juvenile justice system fails to tailor its rules about arrest and incarceration to such special category as adolescents. Processing juvenile offenders as adults is an erroneous approach since minors have a tendency to be very emotional and irrational during puberty, and isolation may lead to disastrous consequences for their mental health. Logan Riley is a talented writer at https://writessay.org/article-critique.php. He likes to express his thoughts on paper.