Juveniles in adult prisons
8 May 2011
Juveniles in Adult Prisons
Misbehaving juveniles are often not spared the incarceration process for their criminal activities. As a result, they are punished with the corresponding penalties for their criminal actions. There are however, major issues raised in the incarceration of juveniles, especially if their incarceration is in adult prisons. One of these issues is the fact that juveniles are exposed to different types of abuses in these adult prisons. These abuses may cover physical, emotional, and even sexual abuse. They are also exposed to other criminal elements in these prisons which often make them even worse offenders upon their release. Based on 2005 statistics, there were about 2200 youths in adult prisons in the US. Majority of these youths were serving life sentences without possibility of parole for crimes they committed when they were minors (Campaign for Youth Justice, n.d). Studies also indicate that juveniles in adult prisons are twice more likely to be beaten up by a staff or by another inmate; and they are 50% more likely to be attacked with a weapon (Campaign for Youth Justice, n.d). Considering these circumstances, this paper shall now critically evaluate and discuss the issue of juveniles in adult prisons. This paper shall be conducted in order to establish a comprehensive and thorough analysis of the issue and its appurtenant highlights for improvement.
The juvenile justice system was conceptualized about a hundred years ago in order to safeguard children from the abuses they were previously subjected to in adult prisons (Schiraldi and Zeidenberg, 1997). Trends indicated that in the traditional system, the children were often returned to society as hardened criminals. A juvenile system was therefore devised for juveniles in order to ensure that they would be housed in centers different from adult offenders where they can undergo rehabilitation, retraining, and other appropriate reformation processes. However, in recent years, due to the increase in the number of juvenile offenders, as well as the crowding of juvenile detention centers, moves to incarcerate juvenile offenders with adult offenders have been suggested (Schiraldi and Zeidenberg, 1997). Needless to say, that this suggestion has been met with much opposition from child advocates, law enforcement officers, criminologists, and other interest groups. They primarily point out that placing juveniles in adult jails would have negative and detrimental effects on the juveniles, especially as their incarceration seems to exacerbate the criminal behavior of these juveniles after their release.
Law enforcement officers are one of the first to point out that locking up a juvenile with murderers, rapists, and robbers promotes the same future criminal behavior among incarcerated juveniles. These officers also point out that for the most part, juvenile offenders need proper adult guidance from appropriate role models. And these “appropriate” role models would hardly be found in these adult jails (Dilulio, 1996, as cited by Schiraldi and Zeidenberg, 1997). Surveys also document instances of juveniles being subjected to various. In fact, in Ohio, a juvenile placed in an adult jail for a minor infraction was reportedly assaulted by a deputy jailer; and in another case, in Kentucky, 30 minutes in a jail cell prompted a 15 year old to hang himself (Schiraldi and Zeidenberg, 1997). Four other deaths were seen in Kentucky jails among juveniles who were incarcerated with adults for various minor offenses (Schiraldi and Zeidenberg, 1997).
In the paper by Sapp and Reddington, (1997) the authors have established that the number of juveniles in adults jails have increased in recent years. Based on some laws passed, some states have already revised their transfer laws first, by decreasing the age of by...