Recividism in Juvenile Offenders

Topics: Crime, Criminology, Recidivism Pages: 11 (4025 words) Published: April 28, 2007
Youth choosing to engage in criminal behavior is not a new phenomenon. Youth who choose to do this repeatedly are referred to as re-offenders. The age and the sex of the offender also contribute to the recidivism rate and the types of consequences. Other contributing factors in recidivism include the relationship the youth has with peers or parents, whether they abuse substances, and the racial origins of the young offender. There is a wide spectrum of consequences and different ways in which treatment attempts to aid re-offenders. Re-offenders commit various crimes and differ greatly in their response to treatment. Recidivism in youth is characterized by adolescents who repeatedly engage in criminal behavior and consistently make poor decisions. It is caused by a combination of factors that contribute to a variety of consequences. These youth have a tendency to be very impulsive people and lack the ability to restrain themselves regardless of the situation. They are commonly associated with low internal control and tend to be more obedient to external stimuli. As a result, their low self control makes them very vulnerable when confronted with temptations (Haapanen, 2007). Although youth re-offenders lack self-control they are able to resist agents of social control, therefore contributing to their re-offending. As the agents of social control attempt to stop the youth's negative behaviors the youth is able to resist them because the youth has learned how to be reckless or aggressive at high levels for long periods of time. On the other hand the majority of youth who offend once and get caught don't re-offend again. Persistent offending is usually seen in people around adolescence and there are multiple treatment facilities that strive to curb the youth's behavior. For many just getting caught is enough of a deterrent (Haapanen, 2007). Approximately 40% of youth that have been caught committing a crime are re-offenders (Kowalski, 1999). The majority of these crimes however are only minor offences and not violent; minor crimes being things such as theft under $500 and other property offences (Kowalski, 1999). When these re-offending youth are being sentenced they are more likely to receive jail time as a consequence opposed to those who have committed only one crime (Kowalski, 1999). There is less of a tolerance for youth who re-offend. Because they continue to offend it is a sign to the courts that previous attempts at treatment or restitution circles have not been effective.

When determining what sentence to give re-offending youth, the severity of the offense and the number of convictions is taken into account (Kowalski, 1999). When a youth has been given a more lenient sentence in the past, lack of previous effort by the youth, and failure to respond to treatment is taken heavily into consideration when being assigned future sentences (Haapanen, 2007). If a youth is being sentenced for a major offence, in particular a violent crime, then whether he or she is a re-offender or a first time offender does not play as large role. Under these circumstances, regardless of how many offences committed in the past, the offender is likely to receive jail time (Kowalski, 1999). The fact that the youth has committed serious crime and is potentially more dangerous outweighs whether or not they are a repeat or first-time offender (Haapanen, 2007). Depending on the situation, the type of offence and/or the number of offences committed will determine what the final decisions regarding sentencing will be. On the other hand, some studies have found that repeat offenders are given harsher punishments for major offences than first time offenders and are more likely than first-time offenders to be given jail time for those offences (Kowalski, 1999). A possible explanation for the difference of findings could be demographics. In certain cities some races or minority groups have a tendency to consistently receive harsher...
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