Criminal Justice

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Rehabilitation vs. Punishment, which one is more effective in Juvenile Matters?

It has long been debated which method of deterrence works best within the criminal justice system, rehabilitation or punishment. In the past, the two mechanisms have been used together and separately in both adult and juvenile courts. Both rehabilitation and punishment are similar in their goals and purposes. However, the debate between which method is more successful continues year after year. The consensus of some in the professional community is that children are not yet fully cognitively developed. Therefore, rehabilitation programs combined with therapeutic counseling insures less recidivism among the young population. Others argue that if a young person is capable of committing an adult crime their age should not be a consideration. The child should be incarcerated and punished as an adult. These professionals are convinced that punishment of young offenders is the best assurance to deter repeat offenders. By 1945, the juvenile court system existed in every jurisdiction of the country. This system was included throughout the federal courts as well (Polachek, 2010). In the beginning phases of the juvenile court endeavor, a new theory of crime emerged. This new court viewed deviant behavior as a “symptom of an underlying condition that required treatment, rather than an act of evil that deserved to be punished” (Polachek, 2010). Unlike adult court proceedings, the juvenile court was anticipated to be an informal production. It was to be conducted on a case-by-case basis. This unique informality was meant to improve the lives of the children through individualized treatment. The individualized plans offered options that ranged from warnings, going forward to probation, and lastly to confinement. The courts emphasis was on “helping” the youth, through the mechanism of rehabilitation. Rehabilitation can be defined as any program or therapy that allows a juvenile...
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