Juvenile Crime; Prevention Is Not Enough
Mark Anthony Howard
May 15, 2012
Juvenile Crime; Prevention Is Not Enough
The word prevention is defined as: “the act of preventing” and as “a hindrance, obstacle, or impediment.” The exercise of “prevention” in juvenile crime by the juvenile justice system is ridiculous! Upon their first run-in with law, youth offenders are introduced to a system that is supposedly based on the principle of accountability. The Juvenile Justice System takes the position that true accountability requires juvenile offenders to repair the harm caused by their offending behavior and to understand and acknowledge the wrongfulness of their actions, their responsibility for causing harm, and the impact of the crime on the crime victim and community. The juvenile justice system believes holding children accountable for their actions are the first of steps in prevention in criminal offenses as an adult.
The hypocrisy in this basis is that the same system refuses to accept accountability for juvenile crime desistance by using terms and practices such as prevention. The impedance of crime is a lazy and hypocritical outlook in the juvenile justice system’s responsibility to reach the mind and spirit of these children. These juvenile offenders are the key element in which support the Juvenile Justice System’s financial lively hood. The median salary of J.J.S county worker is $62577 – $99263 annually aside from quality benefits such as health, life, and retirement insurance. I believe that the juvenile justice system is just as responsible to these delinquents as these delinquents are to their crimes. Most of all I think the juvenile justice system is especially accountable in cases of recidivism.
When a juvenile commits an act that would be criminal if committed by an adult, the juvenile is determined to be delinquent. Delinquent acts may include crimes against persons, crimes against property, drug offenses, and crimes against public order. After court process if the juvenile recommits the same delinquency he is considered a recidivist offender. Recidivism is defined as a tendency to lapse into a previous pattern of behavior or condition, despite treatment or consequence. This a major concern for the justice system because three-fifths of crime totals are crimes by recidivists.
Delinquency prevention efforts seek to redirect youth who are considered at-risk for delinquency or who have committed a delinquent offense from deeper involvement in the juvenile justice system. But I think the juvenile justice system should go deeper than just prevention. The juvenile justice system should direct its focus into understanding the derivative of these delinquencies and cultivate effective methods toward desistance before they become recidivist.
Recent research has demonstrated a clear connection between neglect, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and the negative changes in a child’s neurological development. Abnormal growth and developmental patterns in a child’s brain as a result of abuse and neglect can lead to life-long problems with self-control, memory, emotion, judgment, consequential thinking, and moral reasoning, resulting in an increased likelihood of substance abuse, juvenile delinquency, and adult criminal behaviors. Some of these youth are bound in extremely volatile environments that promote destructive mental conditions in the immature psyche of young child. I think it is unfair and irresponsible to punish a child’s actions without fully attempting to understand the reasoning behind his fault. There can be no rehabilitation, nor correction, without first understanding the core issues at fault. There has to be a mutual understanding between the justice system and the juvenile of why he is being punish before he can accept a method to correct it.
A statistical report by the office of juvenile justice and delinquency prevention conveys that youth who report consistently offending spend about an equal amount of time locked up than youth who report consistently low levels of offending. This is another area where I believe the Juvenile Justice system should assume more accountability. Youth offenders are not even being punished in accordance with their nature of offense, but systematical punish on a preset basis of “this crime equal this time.” This is where I believe some recidivism derives. I believe that the Justice system should loosen on such a systematic punishment of youth offenders and develop more individualized methods toward the desistance of that young individual. The rates of recidivism should be enough evidence that harsh consequence is not a deterrence of youth delinquency. And harsh, irrelevant consequence is damn sure not a resolution in the matter. Youth offenders are product of a misunderstood neglect and misguidance; to punish beyond individual accordance is unfair and may encourage the growth of the underlying cause of the delinquency in the first place. Some of these juveniles are be being mistreated, and unfairly sentence in relation to their offenses. This may encourage resentment towards the actual justice system and further the malice towards public order. This is not delinquency “prevention” this is the growth of delinquent recidivism.
The Juvenile Justice System bases its self upon accountability and prevention, but I think that these terms are lazy and hypocritical. If the actual purpose is the prevention then its methods should be willing to go beyond that. Its methods should address and show concern to the emotional and psychological issues that are at the core of these juveniles before they become delinquent and extend even further after. If the principle in which the Juvenile justice system is based upon is accountability, let it assume its own before forcing such on children. If the principle in which the Juvenile Justice System is based upon is accountability, let it assume accountability to the welfare of each child subjective to its concern. Let it be accountable to the Criminal Justice System for the number of delinquents whom recidivate as adults. Most of all if the Juvenile Justice System is based upon accountability let it assume accountability for absolute enabling of desistance in all at risk youth. Let it assume accountability by creating responsive strategies and by advocating for young people and their families, through legal representation, community collaboration, and development of effective positive interventions. Delinquency is not the problem. Delinquency is the aftermath of problems. Society needs to address some of the core issues within our youth and began to resolve these issues with supportive strategies to encourage rehabilitation alternatives. I believe that the Juvenile Justice System is symbolic of a refugee center for those youth of faulted home life. Some juveniles find themselves in the realm of the justice system because they have no other place to go. The Juvenile Justice System should identify with these children and be more of a help center than an executioner of consequence.
There is absolutely a common ill going through the minds of today’s youth. Juvenile crime is just one of the side effects. In the last 10 years 37,093 youth ages 7-17 committed suicide in the U.S. That is nearly double from the previous decade. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in this age group, and the second is homicide. These numbers are just evidence that there are some serious issues not being addressed in our youth and government entities such as The Juvenile Justice System should be at the forefront in taking the accountability needed to resolve these issues in our youth. Juvenile crime is just one of our youth’s ill side effects and prevention is not enough. Impedance is not enough. Devices such as window locks are made to impede crime; the juvenile justice system’s responsibility should extend itself further than just impeding the crimes of juveniles. I believe it should commit itself to the promotion of refuge, welfare, and desistance in each individual child that it incurs.