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Contemporary juvenile justice system is going through a period of reformation and reformulation, as the authorities and the general public begin to recognize that incarceration is not a solution to crime among adolescent offenders. There emerged a need for alternative judicial control that is cost-efficient, provides better outcomes, and prevents criminal recidivism. House arrest is not an innovate form of punishment that has been utilized mainly towards political criminals.
Moreover, home confinement has recently been viewed as an alternative to imprisonment for both juveniles and adults. Although the form of punishment has proven to be beneficial for adults, house arrest for the youth is associated with higher risks due to the unhealthy environment at home in the majority of cases. While the method may be potentially dangerous at the critical stage of adolescence, the period of home confinement in some cases of non-violent crimes may be valuable for further rehabilitation.
Effects of Imprisonment
Juvenile criminals face some objective and subjective hardships during the incarceration. First, they go through the deprivation of liberty and autonomy as they lose command of almost every aspect of their life and cannot do what they want. Second, all the prisoners suffer from the lack of goods and services and heterogeneous sexual relationships. Third, all the criminals are deprived of security, as socializing with prisoners is often a threat to psychological and physical well-being.
Chamiel and Walsh describe other difficulties including “loss of life skills, extreme loneliness, humiliation, impaired sense of self, violation of sexual identity” (4382). This is especially true for adolescents, as they are going through a crucial life period between childhood and adulthood (Chamiel and Walsh 4383) In brief, it is clear that imprisonment does more harm than good to juveniles as it damages their mind and makes further rehabilitation challenging.
Despite the obvious negative consequences for young criminals, imprisonment is very expensive for the state. The cost of juvenile incarceration is very high; the US government has to pay $88,000 a year for every imprisoned adolescent (Weisburd 309). The costs also grow due to the high level of recidivism among minors, as 70%-80% are often re-arrested within three years after imprisonment (Weisburd 309). Consequently, the economic reason drives many judicial representatives to acknowledge alternatives to conventional detention programs, including house arrest.
Negative Effects of Home Confinement
House arrest has proven to have mostly negative consequences on young criminals. According to Chamiel and Walsh, most of the young people who have experienced such form of punishment report to face the same struggles as the imprisoned people (4383). The only difference is that minors most of the time preserve the sense of personal security throughout home confinement. While this being true, some additional pains connected to the matter can be mentioned, including difficulty in sleeping and having damaged relationships with friends and family. In short, while house arrest may seem easy to endure, it makes the young criminals experience hazards similar to incarceration.
Additional dangers of house arrest for the adolescents include exposure to the unhealthy environment at home that has provoked delinquent behavior. The young criminals are often victims of family abuse or suffer from the consequences of the deviant behavior of family members. Consequently, house arrest in such families can do more harm than good. Moreover, minors under home confinement may feel unsafe, as their enemies may know where they are (Chamiel and Walsh 4398). Weisburd mentions that many adolescents violated their restricting orders and used an increasing amount of drugs and alcohol (299). Therefore, the form of punishment is not universal and can find only limited use.
Positive Effects of Home Confinement
The apparent positive effect of finding alternatives to incarceration is cost-efficiency of house arrest. According to Bouchard and Wong, the Federal Government pays only $10 per day for every offender, which is only $3,650 a year (591) In comparison with imprisonment, home confinement is 24 times more cost-effective, which makes it an excellent alternative. Therefore, in cases of non-violent crimes, more judges may tend to incline towards house arrest as an appropriate form of punishment.
House arrest also allows young people to continue their normal life and avoid socializing with other criminals. In cases of a relatively healthy family environment, young people feel safer at home than among other criminals. Moreover, intercommunication between adolescents and “hardened” criminals in prison may lead to further development of delinquent behavior, as young people are more vulnerable for negative influence than adults (Chamiel and Walsh 4383).
Additionally, young criminals who underwent house arrest often report improvements in family relationships, as children and their parents spend more time together and have to cooperate to deal with emotional difficulties (Chamiel and Walsh 4396) In short, in contrast to imprisonment, home confinement may have a positive impact on a person’s family and social life.
The only positive effect incarceration may have is that it can make people fear of severe deprivations and stop committing crimes predicting the possible hardships. However, Weisburd specifies that young people have less control over their actions and cannot think about the future outcomes at the same level as the adults (324). Therefore, juvenile justice should be more therapeutically rather than punishment oriented and house arrest may become one of the methods for rehabilitation. While the form of punishment is more cost-efficient and recovery-oriented, it should be considered only for non-violent crimes where no possibility of family child abuse is present.
Bouchard, Jessica, and Jennifer S. Wong. “The New Panopticon? Examining the Effect of Home Confinement on Criminal Recidivism”. Victims & Offenders, vol. 13, no. 5, 2018, pp. 589-608. Web.
Chamiel, Elad, and Sophie D. Walsh. ““House Arrest” Or “Developmental Arrest”? A Study of Youth under House Arrest”. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, vol. 62, no. 14, 2018, pp. 4381-4402. Web.
Weisburd, Kate. “Monitoring Youth: The Collision of Rights and Rehabilitation”. 101 Iowa Law Review, no. 297, 2015, pp. 297-341. Web.