Alternative Punishment for Juveniles

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Think some teenagers are getting out of hand these days, or heading down the wrong path? There are many different types of alternative punishment; the amount of juvenile crime would dramatically drop if any of these were more greatly enforced. The most effective way to help these teenagers and to get them started down the correct path is enforcing alternative punishment upon them. This form of punishment is sometimes also known as juvenile justice, restorative justice, and community justice (Karp, 2004). One of the most important characteristics of this punishment is "the idea of discussion, dialogue, and negotiation between the parties involved in and affected by a given crime" (Karp, 2004, ph. 2). This not only forms a connection between the offender and the victim, but also helps to determine what types of steps the offender should take to repair the harm done to the community and the victim. Involvement from the communities and the victims in safe settings almost always provide the best process to determine restorative obligations. This is why it is important to investigate the participation of all parties; how willing they are to engage in such a dialogue, and how much of an effect these discussions have on both parties. A good example of this is a particular program used in the state of Vermont in the United States. In this program, trained community volunteers serve on a panel that meets with juveniles, their parents, their victims, and probationers to come to develop a restorative agreement (Karp, 2004).

There are many different ways of enforcing alternative punishment among juveniles. These can ranger from workforce development programs; which provide job training to incarcerated juveniles in an attempt to prepare them for employment, to a more controversial program such as a military style boot camp; which subject the juvenile to rigorous physical activity, verbal abuse, and high amount of stress as an attempt to "break" them so they can be more effectively rehabilitated (Alternative, 2002). A lighter form of alternative punishment that is most common is community service (Donegan, 1996). Another harsher form of alternative punishment that has proven to be greatly effective is boarding schools (Boarding, 2003).

Workforce development programs prove to be highly effective in lowering the rate of repeat offenses. The Anne E. Casey Foundation, a charity for disadvantaged children, conducted an astonishing report in 2002. This report found that the average rate of repeat offenses in juvenile justice institutions was 50% to 70%. While on the other hand, the repeat rate for four of the fifteen workforce development programs was below 20%. Juveniles who are provided with opportunities and skills for careers are not as likely to be further involved with crime (Alternative, 2002). Executive director of the National Youth Employment Coalition, David Brown, says this. "If young people have a little money in their pockets and are productively occupied in employment activities, they're less likely to commit delinquent acts and more likely to be productive members of society" (Alternative, 2002, ph. 4).

Some more examples of this type of soft alternative punishment are a wide array of things that one may not think would have such an impact on juveniles as they do. These include, but are not limited to, hunter safety classes, babysitting, and victim impact situation; such as an ambulance ride along, get a life program, and a jail tour. Here is a list that might help explain this well.

(Karp, 2004)

Boarding Schools is an effective way of reforming juveniles. This type of punishment is often referred to as a tough love punishment also. Some people may think that boarding schools are not regulated sufficiently and/or the students are mistreated. The few incidents that might lead someone to this conclusion can not even begin to compare to the amount of juveniles that this type of reform has helped. If this means more...
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