IntroductionCAE1 While the juvenile justice systemwas originally created to be a social welfare agency to aid youth and theirfamilies through increasing availability of services, the practices do notalways align with the ideals.
For some, the juvenile system does act as anearly intervention to prevent life persistent offending, but for others, theexperience has left them survivors of abuse and struggling to navigate a worldwith more obstacles than before. As a result, some aspects of the system havebeen deemed to be lacking. This paper identifies those aspects as well asproposes ways to improve upon these deficits. What needs to be fixed?CAE2 The major, overarching aspects ofthe juvenile system that are lacking are prevention of youthful offending anddecreasing interaction with the system.
While the juvenile system offersservices to families and youth in need, they only receive access to theseservices after the child has offended and been referred to the juvenile system.If the services were available prior to the child offending, it may have beenprevented. In addition, the juvenile system is designed to maintain privacy ofthose involved but through notification of schools or other agencies, it ispossible for the child to experience labeling theory and an increased amount ofother obstacles that were not present before interaction.
PreventativeMeasures: The juvenile system was originallydesigned to aid families in DecreasingInteraction:CAE3 Following the above mentionedproposal to invest more in preventative measures would result in juvenilesinteracting with the juvenile justice system less due to lower rates ofoffending, but there should be a push to decrease interaction between thejuvenile system and the juveniles that still are referred to the system. The juvenile system is based on theideas that juveniles should remain separate from adults, should not haveproceedings publicized and should not be labeled as a criminal due to thenegative effects those actions can have. The juvenile system is more privatethan the adult system in regards that juveniles have their records sealed afterproceedings and due to there not being an uniformed identification system inNew York at least, juveniles can receive different ID numbers each time theyoffend depending on the location of their offense. These measures ensure thatjuveniles do not have a record following them throughout life and cannotexperience the negative effects that result from being labeled delinquent orcriminal. They also ensure that longitudinal studies of juvenile offending aremore complicated to track and prevent the public from being involved injuvenile cases. While these measures do aim toprotect the juveniles who interact with the system, they are not alwaysfoolproof.
One example is that juveniles can still experience the negativeeffects of labeling. Labeling theory is the concept that when a person commitsa deviant or criminal act, while it was act that was labeled deviant orcriminal, he or she is also labeled as a deviant or criminal person (Skaggs,2016). The labeling of the behavior is used to also define the person, andbecause society turns away from deviant or criminal acts, society turns awayfrom that person.
The juvenile system does not publicize the proceedings, butsome outside agencies, such as schools, are notified when one of their studentsbecomes involved with the system. While this is intended for the school toincrease resources to the student, such as a meeting with the school counseloror being offered added help if truancy is an issue, the reaction of those atthe school can be detrimental to the juvenile. If they are removed from theclassroom as a result of their behavior, the other children will notice andreact to their absence. Children may not want to be friends or spend time withsomeone who has gotten in trouble. If the children do not shy away from thejuvenile because of his or her behavior, they may be told not to spend timewith the juvenile by their parents who may have heard about the juvenile’sdelinquent acts.
In addition, the teachers and staff members may reactdifferently to a kid labeled as a “trouble-maker” or “delinquent.” Instead ofputting in more effort to understand the reason why the child is acting the wayhe or she is, the child’s behavior could be dismissed as being just the child’spersonality. While the juvenile is most vulnerable and in need to outsideassistance, the label of “delinquent” could result in less access to those needs.Relationships and dynamics within the family of the juvenile could also bestrained or changed due to the interaction with the system. While in somecases, the family dynamics could exacerbate the effects of the label, Jackson& Hay (2013) found that warm, supportive parents can reduce the likelihoodthat their children will reoffend. When a child experiences decreasedinteraction with prosocial peers and adults, there can be an increase inantisocial behavior or crime. Children that do not feel as if the teacherscare, may become truant. Children that are denied friendship with the “good”kids may turn to spending time with other children labeled delinquent.
Thelabeling of a child as delinquent or a “trouble-maker” sets in action adeterioration of bonds not only with teachers and peers, but also with thecommunity. Social bond theory states that if bonds are strong, then an individualis more likely to conform to societal norms and are less likely to offend (Cullen,Agnew, & Wilcox, 2014, p. 212-250). If the juvenile is experiencing anousting from conventional peers, adult role models, institutions such asschool, and are no longer able to participate in conventional activities, it istheorized that the juvenile would continue to offend. Differential associationand social learning theories explain that when the child is ousted from theconventional community, the child will spend time with others who are criminalor deviant and learn how to act from those non-conventional peers and adults.This all would further exacerbate the pushes on the juvenile to continueoffending.
Theory proposes that the more ajuvenile interacts with the justice system, the more negative effects he or sheexperiences and the higher the chance of reoffending. This theory is supportedby facts. A study conducted by Liberman, Kirk, and Kim (2014) found that afirst arrest increased both the likelihood of subsequent offending and arrestfollowing the labeling theory. Also, they found that being arrested did notincrease offending, but increased law enforcement responses in comparison toyouth who were offending at the same level but have evaded a first arrest. Most juveniles that commit minoroffenses do not interact with the system, but instead are diverted to otheragencies or officers let the youth go with a warning. One proposal to remedythe interaction between the system and juveniles that are involved isrestorative justice programs. Restorative justice programs operate under theassumption that crimes are an injury to the community and that it is beneficialfor the person who committed that injury must repair the community (“Guide forimplementing…,” n.
d.). Generally, there is a restorative justice board thatconsists of various people from the community who have been prepared withintensive training. This board considers what the community constitutes as aharm against them and when an individual commits one of these harms, they willhave a hearing. This hearing will involve the offender retelling what happened,accepting responsibility for the harm caused, and creating a plan that would repairthe community. There can be many different avenues that the board recommendsthe offender to do to repair their relationship with the community. These caninclude, but are not limited to: victim-offender mediation, conferencing,family group conferencing or decision making, restorative cautioning, andrestorative dialogue (“What is restorative justice?, 2012).
Restorative justice programs haveshown the ability to achieve increased community and victim involvement, improvedoffender compliance, increased perceptions of fairness, greater satisfactionwith case outcomes, and reduced recidivism (Bergseth & Bouffard, 2013). Inthe study conducted by Bergseth and Bouffard (2013), they found that not onlywas their hypothesis that restorative justice programs were beneficial inreducing recidivism rates for offenders in the program compared to offenderswho were referred to traditional juvenile court regardless of age, gender,racial group membership, prior offending history, or whether it was a propertyor violent referring offense, but the only group that experienced a slightlysmaller reduction in recidivism was those referred to with “other” offenses (p.1071). They found on average that youth referred to the program did notreoffend an average of 10.5 months longer than those referred to traditionalcourt.
There were similar results in the studies conducted by Rodriguez (2007),Bradshaw & Roseborough (2005), De Beus & Rodriguez (2007), and Bergseth& Bouffard (2007). ConclusionCAE4 Interaction with the juvenilejustice system can have beneficial or detrimental effects on youth. When thesystem is able to perform and follow its intended ideals, juveniles are giventhe resources needed to desist in future offending, but when the system isunable to do so, the effects of interacting with the system could be worse thanif the juvenile was never involved in the first place. Moving forward, it isessential to correct the areas the system is most lacking.
As stated before,doing so can not only help prevent initial offending, but decrease reoffendingand save money spent on punitive endeavors. CAE1Revised and Good! CAE2Intro Paragraph Revised and Good! CAE3Revised and Good until the theory supported by facts paragraph CAE4Revised and Good!