Adolescent Development in Juvenile Recidivism

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Punishment is a word that has many different meanings. It differs from person to person, state to state and even country to country. When looking at the criminal justice system the purpose of punishment is deterrence, rehabilitation, retribution, and incapacitation (Bontrager, Smith, & Winokur, 2008). Punishment involving adults is hard but when dealing with adolescents it is even more difficult. Adolescence is often thought to be a time of irrational and emotion influenced behavior. There are many who think that adolescence is just a phase that is an entity in and of its self. While many people can see the correlation between the actions and behaviors that happen in adolescence to the habits and life style in adulthood few people see the correlation between a person’s early childhood and the affect that has on his or her adolescence. There is no developmental phase that stands totally alone. Each phase has a lasting consequence ramifications on the next. This progressive developmental phase has lasting ramifications on the adolescent’s behavior, self-concept and maturity. Because of this there is a need to view juvenile crime and punishment differently than adult crime and punishment. The reason for this is because some research has shown that recidivism rates among juvenile parolees are very high. It can range anywhere from fifty five percent to seventy five percent (Krisberg, Austin, and Steele, 1991). There is evidence that a vast majority of juvenile offenders who have been confined do not stop committing crimes when they are released. In fact, many juvenile offenders continue their criminal involvement into adulthood (Hamparian et al., 1984). There is a need to halt juvenile crime before it begins and there needs to be a way to halt the progression of juvenile crime being indicative of adult crime. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how childhood development affects adolescent’s development and how this development is directly related to a troubled adolescent’s recidivism rate in relation to family, community and social support. When sentencing juvenile offenders there needs to be an emphasis not only on punishment but rehabilitation.

Crime prevention, whether on the juvenile level or adult level, falls into the three categories, of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention.
Primary prevention focuses on the conditions that may foster criminal activity. Primary prevention works to sway juveniles who are immersed in communities and cultures that promote violence and crime to seek healthier ways to live ((Bendit, Nieborg, & Erier, 2000). For example,i.e. a juvenile living in a depressed area will see that drugs and theft are the primary means of survival. Taking that juvenile to a farm, or a camp, exposes them hard, honest work is more satisfying, and less stressful than devious means of support. The idea behind primary prevention is the desire to create a more positive perspective, specifically for juveniles, which will effect positive change which will, hopefully, keep the adolescent from criminal behavior. Primary prevention speaks to pretty much all aspects of life. It takes into account poverty, unemployment and a wide variety of other social and psychological burdens. It enfolds all of the aforementioned items with support for families, schools, urban development, healthcare, stabilizing and strengthening individual personalities, social education and combating prejudice (Bendit, Nieborg, & Erier, 2000). Primary prevention is an attempt at a catchall.

The concept behind secondary prevention is not to look at the general environment, as in primary prevention, but to focus on a small, clearly defined group. This group encompasses children and young people whose individual development, or circumstances, or both, cause them to be a more likely candidate for becoming a potential offender. Secondary prevention focuses on helping people who fall into this group...
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