How to Treat Violent Young Offenders
A common assumption about young people who commit violent crimes is that they are simply born evil and that nothing good can come of their lives. From this perspective, the only solution is to punish these young offenders by locking them up, either in prison or in a place for teenagers designed to make their lives as miserable as possible. Such an approach suggests that young people who hurt or kill others are untreatable. It also suggests that more prisons must be built to make our communities safe. This assumption, however, is a false one. Research shows that violent young offenders can be treated and reformed. In addition, it shows that when young people fail to receive treatment,it does more damage than good.
For example, John Hubner’s(2005) book, Last Chance in Texas: The Redemption of Criminal Youth, describes how experimental treatments at the Giddings State School in Texas can change the lives of violent young offenders for the better. Giddings State School is a facility run by the Texas Youth Commission for those who have not only broken the law in Texas, but who are also considered to be “the worst of the worst” (p. xviii). This means that Giddings houses offenders who have committed crimes that involve weapons, serious injury, abuse, torture, and, in some cases, death (p. xx). For this reason, readers of Hubner’sbook might think that such young people cannot be redeemed.
However, as Hubner (2005) shows throughout the book, the therapists, corrections officers, administration, teachers, and coaches who work at Giddings are committed to changing the overall outlook of the young people who are sent to the facility. Hubner describes how the students, as they are called, are “resocialized,” which means that students process their feelings and learn empathy in some unusual ways (p. xxi). Students who conform to the rules of Giddings earn the right to participate in the Capitol Offenders Group, which...
References: Hubner, John. (2005). Last Chance in Texas: The Redemption of Criminal Youth. New York: Random House. Print.
Valios, Natalie. (2006, July).“No Wonder He 's Distressed.” Community Care,(1631), 30-31. Retrieved October 20, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Trade & Industry. (Document ID: 1083442291).
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