Juvenile justice and corrections Essay

This essay has a total of 1178 words and 7 pages.

juvenile justice and corrections

Juvenile Justice and Correction



Justice has always been the goal of our court system, but it is not always served,
especially in cases involving juveniles. The judiciary process has evolved from a system
that did not initially consider juveniles, to one where juveniles have their own court
proceedings, facilities, and even rules or laws. The juvenile justice system has come a
long way, and people have worked very hard in its creation. A juvenile is considered to be
an individual, under the age of 18, resembling an adult. However, resembling an adult does
not always mean that juveniles will have an adult mindset. Thus, juveniles may need extra
attention to help get their lives on track. This paper will analyze various ways involving
juveniles and correction facilities and programs.

One of the major differences between juvenile and adult corrections is the large number of
private facilities in the juvenile system. Private facilities have the luxury of being
able to "cherry-pick" their clients, and they can also sometimes do things and perform
treatments that public facilities cannot do. One of the big problems in public juvenile
justice is how long it takes to get an arrested juvenile tried and adjudicated as a
delinquent. Only after they have been so adjudicated can they technically be placed in a
"rehabilitation" program, and obviously, this kind of delay exacerbates the problem of
delivering psychological services in a timely fashion. Juveniles who are still in
detention status can only receive substance abuse treatment, sex education, remedial
education, and crisis intervention services.

There are short-term facilities (detention centers), as well as shelters and reception and
diagnostic centers. Long-term facilities include training schools, ranches, forestry
camps, boot camps, farms, halfway houses, and group homes. In addition, there are numerous
private institutions and a number of psychiatric hospitals and treatment centers. The
correctional landscape of juvenile justice is quite different from the correctional system
in the adult world. While most facilities are small, the United States does have about 70
large facilities for juveniles. The average length of time served in all types of
facilities is six to seven months (Champion 2003).

It is common for juveniles in need of rehabilitation to have multiple problems. Sometimes,
the multiplicity of co-occurring problems is so great that the (over)use of competency and
insanity determinations is tempting. Estimates of mental health problems among juvenile
inmates run as high as 90% (Ulzen & Hamilton 1998), but the prevalence of serious mental
illness is only about 30%, ten percent higher than the frequency of serious mental illness
in the juvenile population as a whole.

As Bartol & Bartol (2004) suggest, there are approximately seven (7) different models of
treatment for juvenile offenders. Not all of them are as successful as can be expected,
but treatment programs for juveniles tend to take on a life of their own. The list below
is presented in no particular order, and only represents programs which have found some
acceptance, usage, or recognition in forensic psychology:

• group home models - group homes are the most common type of semi-secure or
insecure facility, and their existence is justified on the principle that the least
restrictive alternative should be used, unless facts warrant otherwise. Models include the
Achievement Place approach (Phillips 1968) and African Unity-based approaches.

• multisystemic models - "multisystemic" is loosely a term for approaches based on
Bronfenbrenner's (1979) family systems theory, which in short, implies that the best
approach is one which ignores the offender, and joins him or her in blaming their family,
their peer group, their school, and their neighborhood.

• substance abuse models - these are generally relapse prevention programs that are
delivered on an inpatient (avg. stay 6 months) or outpatient (twice weekly) basis where
"community" meetings are held and clients set goals for themselves.

• boot camp models - these are faddish government programs, most popular from
1987-1997 which attempt to instill military-style discipline, respect for authority, and
boost self-esteem. There have been highly publicized abuses (e.g. in Maryland) and most
research indicates a negative impact on recidivism and self-efficacy.
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