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The phenomenon of youth who repeatedly engage in criminal behavior is common in the society. Youth who repeatedly commit crimes are known as re-offenders, while the repetition of crimes by youth is technically referred to as juvenile recidivism. The study of juvenile recidivism has attracted substantial attention from scholars, especially psychologists, because the youth are considered to be at more risk of becoming re-offenders due to their age.
A number of studies have suggested that with appropriate correction, juvenile recidivism can be substantially reduced. Programs designed to be implemented as juvenile offenders serve their time have been proven to have mixed results as far as juvenile recidivism is concerned.
There has, therefore, been substantial controversy on whether services offered in correctional facilities are able to reduce the recidivism rates of juveniles. This paper looks at the studies that have been done about this topic in a bid to establish the reliability of services offered in correctional facilities in the reduction of juvenile recidivism.
Wilson (2010) seeks to identify the policy interventions that can be employed in the United States in order to reduce juvenile recidivism in the United States.
Some of the strategies that Wilson 2010 suggests include Life Skills classes in and out of correctional facilities, ”interpersonal skills courses, counseling, targeted interventions for serious offenders and therapeutic wilderness and challenge programs” (Wilson, 2010, p. 51).
Wilson (2010) also states that the program that had yielded impressive results in the past include “individualized counseling, personal skills training, and behavior programs” (51). On the other hand, a number of interventions were proven to have little effects on the rates of recidivism.
These interventions include vocational programs and challenges focused on deterrence. From his text, it is apparent that the services that juvenile inmates are given while in custody are a determinant factor of recidivism. However, the success of programs in reducing juvenile recidivism is dependent on the content of the programs.
Barnes (2010) identifies the main motivator for crime, especially in young people, as the development of an antisocial disposition. These are people who live negative mindsets, making them irresponsible, unremorseful and selfish.
This implies that if appropriate program are implemented in correction facilities to help these youths beat their negative personality, the chances of the youth recidivating after release from custody will be minimized.
Because the youth in custody have already developed delinquent tendencies, they should be closely watched to reduce the likelihood of developing recidivism.
This may be achieved by facilitating sports, camps, and other social programs to help them improve their social skills. The aforesaid interventions may be applied in correctional facilities to reduce the chances of recidivism. It is also important to incorporate the help in holistic programs that address all the needs of the youth.
Offenders may be facilitated attend classes while in correctional facilities. This will later on help them to secure jobs after they are released from custody, reducing the chances of recidivism (Barnes, 2008). It will also help them improve their sense of self-worth, which could in turn reduce the rates of recidivism significantly.
The offenders may also be guided while at the facility to prepare them for life after incarceration. This will help reduce recidivism. It is also important for rehabilitation programs to include forums in which the youth can be able to talk about what they have gone through, and be counseled appropriately. This will make them face their problems with an effort to reduce them.
Barnes study is credible because gives guidelines of the kind of program that should be offered in correctional facilities in order to ensure that juveniles do not recidivate.
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The study is also characterized by evaluation of several studies related to juvenile recidivism adding to its credibility. However, the discussion is characterized by multiple incidences of repetition. Another limitation of this study is the fact that it does not have sufficient empirical evidence for its claims.
Analysis of facts from literature review
From the literature above, it is apparent that the main reason for the high rates of recidivism in juveniles is the fact that most juvenile delinquents have an antisocial character, and they tend to live a negative life.
A negative life here means that they have psychological problems, or they have specific addictions like drug addiction which draw them to crime. It is thus imperative that such issues be addressed during correction if any progress is to be made in the reduction of juvenile recidivism.
Programs designed to reduce the rates of recidivism among juveniles must, therefore, have components that address each of the aforesaid issues. If such programs are appropriately designed, it is possible to achieve the objective of correction; which is reduced recidivism rates.
It is thus true that the services offered to juveniles while they are held in correctional facilities can potentially reduce recidivism rates. The effectiveness with which these services help in reducing the rates of recidivism is, however, dependent on how well the services are tailored to meet the psychosocial and emotional needs of the offenders.
As Wilson (2010) states, programs that are highly effective in reducing juvenile recidivism are normally composed of social correction measures, psychological correction measures, and programs that make the juvenile able to undertake various economic activities once he/she is released from custody.
This is because these programs address the real problem behind the delinquency of juveniles. That is, since most juveniles offend due to psychosocial problems, it is apparent that services such as counseling, which address the real cause of the delinquency, will yield impressive results.
Other juveniles offend due to financial problems or even idleness. From this fact, it can be predicted that a program which has a component for improvement of personal skills will be bound to succeed in lowering the rates of recidivism since the juveniles will be less idle as they employ their skills after leaving the correctional facilities.
Similarly, the juveniles will be able to put the skills they acquired to good economic use, and make money, which will help solve their financial problems. This will substantially lower the rates of recidivism.
Just like in the case of well-planned services having good impacts on recidivism, poorly planned services can be a disappointment as far as reduction of recidivism is concerned. If a program does not address the real cause of delinquency in juveniles, it is highly unlikely that the program will have positive effects in the bid to reduce recidivism rates.
Thus programs that ignore the fact that juveniles recidivate due to psycho-social problems and financial problems, among other related issues are bound to disappoint the efforts made at reducing the rates of recidivism. This explains why Wilson (2010) observed that deterrence challenges and vocational programs had little or no effect on the rates of recidivism.
It is also interesting to note that the interventions that are advocated for by Wilson (2010) are slightly different from those which are suggested by Barnes (2010). Wilson’s interventions can be regarded as quick wins while the interventions suggested by Barnes are meant to develop the juveniles gradually. This brings yet another important issue that should be considered when designing programs at correctional facilities in a bid to reduce recidivism.
This is the fact that there is an option between short effective programs that focus only on the problem being solved, e.g. counseling, and long-term programs which have a number of positive effects, including addressing recidivism-related problems, e.g. sports. It is thus important that, as people design correctional programs in a bid to reduce recidivism rates, they put into consideration the amount of time that the facility will be holding the juvenile.
If the juvenile is being held for just a month, long-term interventions like involving him/her in sports may not reduce his/her chances of recidivating (Hevener, 2009). However, in the case where a juvenile is being held for a period of one month, short programs like intensive counseling may achieve impressive results in reducing the chances of recidivating.
Solutions for recidivism of juvenile offenders
One of the best ways to ensure that juveniles do not recidivate is the implementation of a holistic program for rehabilitation of juvenile offenders before and after they leave correctional facilities. Such a program could include visitations by experts in correctional facilities to help the offenders prepare for life after leaving the facilities.
The juveniles may also be counseled while in the facilities, and given an opportunity to vent their anger by explaining the reasons behind their offences (Gewirtz, 2007). After leaving the facilities, juveniles should be given further counseling, and accorded the necessary moral support by family and the society.
The aforementioned program should also have facilities for recreation activities in order to occupy the offenders in custody and offenders who have been released from custody. The juveniles should also be closely watched to make sure that they do not keep bad company in and out of the correctional facility since this is one of the main causes of recidivism.
One advantage of developing such program for rehabilitating juvenile offenders is that the program can be tailored depending on the needs of the juveniles. For instance, if the reason for delinquency in the first place was drug abuse, an offender will be placed under a rehabilitation program to treat this problem.
Other offenders suffering from lack of self esteem, communication problems, or even social problems may also be helped appropriately depending on their problem. The program may also be full time or part time depending on the needs of the juveniles.
Another advantage is the fact that the juveniles will be attended to by professionals, and thus the program is highly expected to help them. Additionally, there will be an advantage accruing due to the large number of juveniles being rehabilitated at once (Miner, 2002, p. 420).
The juveniles will be able to interact and learn from each other while improving their social skills. The program costs will also be cut down by the large number of participants in proportion with the success that the program is expected to achieve.
One of the other foremost options is providing Medicaid treatment for the juveniles who require it. Statistics from juvenile detention institutions show that 66% male and 75% female detainees have identifiable and treatable cerebral disorder(s).
Such disorders are classified as health situations where sufferers perpetrate antagonistic behaviors that in many times are criminal acts. Statistics show that there is always at least 5 times more frequency of a juvenile having a psychological disorder in incarceration compared to one out of incarceration.
This without a doubt leaves one to query if there exists a cause-effect association involving the two. Long periods of study have come up with an association involving psychological disorder and antagonistic behavior patterns. To become increasingly alert to this association the concerned authorities have to develop and spread out psychological health institutions and services to all detained young ones.
In the same way as any health state, psychological disorders have warning signs. There are assortments of disorders that show in juveniles and experts concerned with this have to be well aware of them, and more especially those that are characterized under the troublemaking group. Statistics from juvenile incarceration institutions show that these are the most widespread of disorders that they have to deal with.
These disruptive disorders are characterized by children who act in a hostile manner by brawling, intimidating, sexually coercing, being brutal to citizens and other living thing, among others (Revere, 2007). Such sufferers normally have a genetic predicament that requires attention. Such conduct should not be paid heed to.
Naturally, children should not be brought forth to be against the law, nor do they decide to make appalling choices with conniving reasons in mind. In a lot of instances, young ones are placed in custody as a result of their psychological health conditions. Fortunately, these disorders are treatable.
With advances in the fields of medicine there are several cures available in this age and time. As a matter of fact it will be easier to slot in Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) remedies into the juvenile incarceration institutions.
These are schemes that have been broadly examined with juvenile offenders in mind. They are normally community based, effective, and above all they are affordable. Such treatments have also been shown to take short periods of time spanning between 3 to 5 months.
Institutions that have the interests of children at heart have voiced their opinion on this and have put this remedy as the first one that should be considered before others come into play. Through this, young ones will receive effectual cure in a cost-effective manner.
Another good option to curb recidivism is through the increasing of vocational guidance schemes for past-offender youths. This should be accompanied with much stress on guidance or mentoring.
There needs to be an age limit for those admissible into such programs, with the objective being to capture the age cluster with the greater portion of lawbreakers designated to residential and aftercare curriculums (Rasmussen, 2003, p. 69). As much as these curriculums are inadequate in capacity, vocational guidance courses have the probability to have a huge positive effect.
Professional training courses do more than simply pass on a skill; they endow the learner with the life techniques and the acquaintance required to productively participate in society. Professional curriculums that entail wide-ranging services, an assortment of doings and intellectual erudition are the curriculums that hold self-satisfactory, flourishing and felony-free grads.
Statistics form places in which these programs have been implemented show that 85% of graduates stayed put in service and/or went on with their education three years following their end of the curriculum.
Intellectual erudition is particularly essential by way of professional training courses. It has been shown that as much as students may fail in academic training, be disengaged from the whole exercise, and/or feel that it is all a waste of time, professional training comes in handy. Such training courses offer similar techniques as school, and what’s more, they enable the learner to acquire more dependability since he or she has the feeling that such teaching will lead to a profession (Mendel, 2001, p. 34).
This is for the simple reason that learners perceive practical-based learning as more appropriate since it makes obvious intellectual knowledge realism in the real-world place of work. This is emphasized even more when the learner(s) earn a pay. In the midst of other techniques, practical teaching and project-based erudition are especially thriving.
Juvenile re-entrants require counseling as it is a precious service that offers life bearing, illustrations to follow and the availability of a person(s) who is always concerned. For the majority of former-detainees these essential hold ups are absent.
The increase in group gang action, as a replacement for this service, may add to and complicate this absence of constructive shore up and the felony problem in society. Trends show that juveniles are all the time more joining gangs at younger ages.
Another viable option is that of pupil personnel workers. These employees provide four major purposes for incarcerated juveniles. They are backers for all the incarcerated juniors, an expert to institution members of staff and parents/guardians on a wide range of matters, and act as a connection between different sections within the institution (Kumar, 2007, p. 18).
What’s more they are a recommendation source to external entities and society resources. Such a set up has various advantages all geared to making matters run smoothly within such institutions and ensuring recidivism is curbed.
The foremost pro is that of a reduced work on any institution’s pupil personnel employees. Then there is increased personal attention and services offered to each pupil. As this scheme develops there will definitely be shown diminished long-standing expenses to the authorities as pupil personnel workers lessen recidivism levels.
If the services that are offered to juveniles in incarceration are tailored in the way that they have been discussed above, then concerned authorities in whichever part of the world will be sure to nib this problem in the bud (Leverett, 1999). These are solutions that have been tried and tested. What’s more, they have backing from experts who have specialized in these matters.
Recidivism among juveniles is a subject that requires dedicated attention from authorities. This is because apart from destroying the lives of young people, these same people are the ones who grow to become serial killers, serial rapists, burglars, arsons, etcetera. It is thus in the interest of the government to address the issue of recidivism in juveniles since doing so will substantially reduce the rates of crime.
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Kumar, R. (2007). On the Truancy Front Line, the Baltimore Sun, 24 January 2007.
Leverett, S. (1999). Recidivism Among Juvenile Offenders: An Analysis of Times to Reappearance in Court. Web.
Mendel, Richard A., “Less Cost, More Safety: Guiding Lights for Reform in Juvenile Justice.” (2001).
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