Preventing Juvenile Delinquency
A major problem in modern day society, of course, is criminals. It is believed by some that some people are born criminals, that they just have a genetic make up to do ‘bad things’, but for those who know better, we know this is nowhere near true. Criminals are formed by their environment, life experiences, and other situational factors. You can have the exact same two individuals and raise them in separate places and although they are genetically and physically the same, they will grow up and mature into totally different individuals because, let’s face it, our environment and society rounds us into the type of people we are. So what needs to be done? It goes without saying that criminals and delinquency needs to be stopped, it ends in thousands of pointless deaths state wide and property damages can reach into the millions. The goal is to specifically find out what breeds a criminal, or a delinquent, and try to alter or deter them from the life they are inevitably going to have; A life of crime.
If delinquency is really a rational choice and a routine activity, then delinquency prevention is a matter of three strategies: prevention by convincing potential delinquents that they will severely punished for committing delinquent acts, then they must be punished so severely, that they never want to commit crimes again, or make it so difficult to commit crimes that the potential gain is not worth the risk. The first of these strategies is called general deterrence; the second is specific deterrence, and the third, situational crime prevention. General deterrence concept holds that the choice to commit delinquent acts is structured by the threat of punishment. If it believed that kids are going to get away with a crime, they are more likely to commit one. On the other hand, if they believe that their illegal behavior would result in apprehension and severe punishment, then only the truly irrational would commit a crime, the rest would be deterred. The main principle to the general deterrence theory is that the more severe, certain, and swift the punishment is, the greater the deterrence effect will be. Even though particular crimes have certain punishment, there will be relatively no deterrent if they individuals feel as if they will not get caught. Conversely, even a mild sanction may deter crime if people believe punishment is certain. So if the justice system can convince would-be delinquents that they will get caught for the commission of a crime, they may decide that the risk is not greater than the reward and avoid the illegal act a together. One might argue that kids are not deterred by the fear of punishment because juvenile justice is based on the parens patriae philosophy, which mandates that children be treated and not punished. This greatly limits the power of the law to deter juvenile crime. In recent years, the increase in teenage violence, gang activity, and drug abuse promoted a reevaluation of deterrence strategies. Police wisely began to focus on particular problems in their jurisdiction rather than merely reacting after a crime has occurred. In result, police are now more willing to use aggressive tactics called drug-busting units. The result of this would be to deter membership in drug trafficking gangs. Juvenile courts also initiated a deterrence strategy. Juvenile court judges have been willing to waive youths to adult courts; prior record may outweigh an offender’s need for services in making this decision. Legislators seem willing to pass more restrictive juvenile codes featuring mandatory incarceration sentences in juvenile facilities, and the number of incarcerated juveniles continues to increase. Adolescents are not even spared capital punishment: the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the use of the death penalty for youths over 16. The effectiveness of general deterrence strategies is a topic of considerable debate. A number...
References: Saminsky, A. (2010). Preventing juvenile delinquency: Early intervention and comprehensiveness as critical factors. (02 ed., Vol. 02, p. 3). WEB
Siegel, L. (2006). Juvenile delinquency . (9 ed., p. 587). Canada: Thomson Wadsworth.
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