Ashley Kannan Certified Educator I think that there has to be a moving away from the punitive nature of punishment for the juvenile offender. As budgets have reduced and as social desire for retribution has become more sharply defined, I think that there has to be some level of legislative and judicial courage to recognize that long term results of a punitive and less understanding system of justice breeds more difficulty for society. In the end, "locking up" more
He has been a reformer of criminal and juvenile justice systems in 6 states and 5 countries, and currently monitors conditions of confinement in Ohio juvenile prison facilities.
He was previously a Fellow at Juvenile Law Center, a law clerk for the Special Master overseeing conditions in the California juvenile prison system, and a law clerk for the Ombudsman of the Texas Youth Commission.
Kids, mostly older teenagers, who are arrested for criminal behavior in the United States are generally brought to juvenile court. Juvenile courts were created about a hundred years ago to divert kids away from the adult criminal justice system, keep them out of adult jails and Junenile justice system should focus on and attempt to intervene in their lives in meaningful ways to prevent them from engaging in criminal behavior as adults.
While most kids who come to juvenile court are supervised and provided with services in the community, a small portion are sent to State-run juvenile correctional facilities.
These facilities are diverse. Some look like secure boarding schools; others look more like prisons. We get involved in juvenile facilities when they become unsafe and are put under court supervision usually following class-action lawsuits or lawsuits brought by the U.
Thanks to the recession, most states are looking for ways to downsize their juvenile prisons and more cost-effective ways to supervise them in the community.
This is not a new idea. For years, youth advocates nationwide have been pushing for alternatives to secure lock-ups because of the known negative effects of removing kids from their homes and communities, and the general ineffectiveness of prisons at improving youth behavior.
The recession, though, has piqued the interest of legislators and made downsizing of juvenile prisons appealing for budgetary reasons.
In Ohio, where we currently monitor juvenile prison conditions, the population has dropped from over incarcerated youth a few years ago to less than today. This sort of de-carceration has a lot of positive effects.
Families are kept together, youth can stay in school, and they can often get better mental health and case management services in the community. With effective probation systems, the public is usually just as safe, and the youth is less likely than if he were locked up to commit future crimes.
The shadow effect of this de-carceration is that the juvenile prison systems are left to manage a smaller population, but with higher concentrations of the most violent youth, gang-involved youth and seriously mentally ill youth.
These populations are tough to manage, particularly mixed together. Most states and counties have decided over the past decade to cut back on community mental health resources — a public policy decision, the results of which we are seeing today.
By the time these youth make it to the deep end of the juvenile justice system, they have usually been to the other placements multiple times and have exhausted other county resources.
The juvenile prison system—which is a less-than-ideal treatment environment—then becomes a default mental health care system. What we see when we get involved in oversight of unsafe juvenile prisons are youth with mental illnesses being victimized or manipulated by other youth; youth being punished for behavior related to their mental illness; excessive force and excessive reliance on isolation cells to respond to problem behavior; and clinical staff stretched thin from handling crisis after crisis.
We also see prison systems segregating the most disruptive youth from everyone else, placing them in Special Management housing Units or SMUs. Unless they have a clear vision and purpose, as well as qualified staff to work with youth on improving their behavior, SMUs often devolve into lockdown units in which youth spend significant lengths of time in solitary confinement cells.
In these environments, where youth feel like caged animals, their behavior becomes even worse, and their mental health deteriorates. Because of the higher concentration of high-needs youth in juvenile facilities, we also see states rushing to move kids into the adult prison system—or to combine the adult and juvenile prison systems into a single agency—with overwhelmingly bad results.
Kids in the adult system receive fewer educational and treatment services, are more at risk for physical and sexual victimization, and have much higher rates of suicide. Juvenile prison reform efforts nationally have been quite successful at reducing the incarcerated population.
States need to take steps to make sure the remaining kids are safe and have a chance at rehabilitation. The absolute best way to reduce violence in juvenile facilities is to provide more and better activities.
Kids should be in school part of the day, and engaged in athletic, recreational, and treatment activities the rest of the day.
|President Obama: "Our Criminal Justice System Isn't as Smart as It Should Be" | monstermanfilm.com||To download a PDF of the issue, click here.|
|Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act | CJJ||Pre[ edit ] Juvenile delinquency punishments trace back to the Middle Ages when crimes were severely punished by the Church. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, few legal differences existed between children and adults.|
|IN ADDITION TO READING ONLINE, THIS TITLE IS AVAILABLE IN THESE FORMATS:||Focus of Juvenile Justice Early treatment of juveniles focused on punishing offenders who were capable of understanding their offenses. Today, the juvenile justice system has developed as a more benevolent, less formal alternative to the adult system, in which rehabilitation, not punishment, is the desired outcome.|
If your system has a Special Management Unit SMU to segregate the most disruptive youth from the general population, consider disbanding it. Behavior management is more effective when youth spend more time out of their rooms learning and practicing new skills.The American juvenile justice system is the primary system used to handle youth who are convicted of criminal offenses.
The juvenile justice system intervenes in delinquent behavior through police, court, and correctional involvement, with the goal of rehabilitation. The juvenile justice system and its courts are in place in each state in order to promote justice in the punishment of delinquent youths.
Among every state, every city, every county and every individual court, there is a common goal of doing what is best for both the child and for the community.
"The juvenile justice system has been 'reinvented' in the image of the adult criminal justice system," Robert Schwartz, co-founder of the Juvenile Law Center, and Thomas Grisso, a clinical. Here are 10 things every juvenile prison system should consider to make their facilities safer and improve the prospects for their kids’ success.
1. The absolute best way to reduce violence in juvenile facilities is to provide more and better activities. A separate juvenile justice system was established in the United States about years ago with the goal of diverting youthful offenders from the destructive punishments of criminal courts and encouraging rehabilitation based on the individual juvenile's needs.
The juvenile justice system should focus on rehabilitation. The philosophy that has brought the juvenile justice system this far has been one of change. The earliest treatment of juvenile delinquents was severe punitive treatment, the confinement of juveniles and adults, together and the accepted wisdom that the state should have parental.