Should the Juvenile Justice System Should Focus on Rehabilitation

Topics: Recidivism, Prison, Criminology Pages: 10 (1816 words) Published: January 23, 2011
Should the juvenile justice system should focus on rehabilitation



January 17, 2011

University Of Phoenix

There has been much of a debate over whether or not punishment or

rehabilitation should be the prime focus of the juvenile justice system. In

the past, the focus has gone from punishment to rehabilitation and back

again. This swing seems to occur based more on the community's

response to juvenile delinquents rather than on how well either one of

these strategies will actually work.  Rehabilitation should be the primary

focus of the juvenile justice system; however, punishment should not be

abolished all together. This paper will explore many reasons why

rehabilitation should be the main focus of the juvenile justice system.

The purpose of this paper is to inform the audience about rehabilitation.

It will be defined as programs and therapies that will allow any juvenile

delinquent to reenter the society as a contributing member to their

community. Examples of such programs are behavior modification

therapies, education, work programs, and counseling. Each of these

programs are aiming to correct an areas that needs such improving or

correction in.

The juvenile justice system should focus on rehabilitation because it

can reduce time spent incarcerated, it can address more of the needs of

delinquents, it allows delinquents to become more productive members

of society, and it can reduce the costs associated with incarcerating

youths. The article Juvenile Justice states that we should encourage

more rehabilitation. It also states that focusing on punishment rather

than rehabilitation is "leading to more repeat offenders, and ultimately,

depriving both society and the offenders themselves of their full

potential." (The League of Young Voters. 2009) The reasoning behind

this is that offenders are being punished for their delinquent acts but are

not necessarily learning how to reenter society as productive members.

As Mellen states "Juvenile courts were designed to be flexible, informal,

and to rehabilitate." (Mellen, 2008)

Rehabilitation offers offenders a chance to learn about their behavior,

how it impacts society, and what they can do to change that behavior. In

this way upon completing rehabilitation these juvenile offenders can

reenter society. When the reenter society they know that they can be

successful, contributing members of society. Without rehabilitation many

offenders will go into adulthood to continue their delinquent behavior.

Many of these individuals feel that rehabilitation would have been

beneficial to them. The article Public Willing to Pay More for

Rehabilitation of Juvenile Offenders states "nine out of ten people

surveyed believe that 'almost all you who commit crimes have the

potential to change. (Public Willing to Pay More for Rehabilitation of

Juvenile Offenders, 2009)

Day, Howells and Rickwood inform us "Research conducted in

juvenile justice settings around the world consistently shows that young

people who come to the attention of criminal justice agencies have

multiple problems and experience high levels of need across all areas of

functioning." (Day et Al, 2004) An interview was conducted on May 1,

2009 with Michael M.* backs this statement up. Michael came from a

single parent household. He had little supervision, was subjected to

abuse, and witness drug and alcohol abuse. He also had mental health

issues that had gone undiagnosed and subsequently contributed to his

delinquent activities. He went on to be convicted as a juvenile offender

for theft, drug use, and assault. He was released but wound up being

incarcerated again for the same crimes. When asked about

rehabilitation, Michael states that he wished he would have had it while

incarcerated at the youth detention center. He feels it would...

References: American Civil Liberties Union. (1996, July 5). ACLU Fact Sheet on the Juvenile Justice System Retrieved Jan.10, 2011, from
Day, A., Howells, K., & Rickwood, D. (2004, October). Current trends in the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders [T&I no. 284]. In Australian Institute of Criminology. Retrieved Jan.10, 2009, from
The League of Young Voters. (2009). Juvenile Justice The League of Young Voters. In Retrieved Jan 10, 2011, from
McKeenan, Michael. Interview on May 1, 2009.
Mellen, G. (2008, May 20). A historical struggle: Punishment or rehabilitation? - Press-Telegram. In HOME - Press-Telegram. Retrieved Jan. 10, 2011, from
Public Willing to Pay More for Rehabilitation of Juvenile Offenders; Models for Change: Systems Reform in Juvenile Justice. (2008). In Models for Change: Systems Reform in Juvenile Justice; Home. Retrieved Jan.10, 2011, from
Shepard Jr., R. (2009). Criminal Justice Magazine Article. In American Bar Association - Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice. Retrieved Jan. 10, 2011, from
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