Even with all the money and effort spent on the adult justice system the recidivism rate is astonishing. When we hear old sayings like “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” or “you have to nip the problem in the bud” or “if you don’t want a rotten apple, don’t go to the barrel go to the tree”, do we realize the effect these concepts could have on the crime? If we realize it’s difficult to teach old offenders new behaviors and actually focus our efforts on “nipping the problem in the bud” or attempt to save the apple from spoiling while it’s still young and on the tree, we will be able to positively affect crime in the juvenile and adult justice systems.
The Juvenile Justice SystemJuvenile justice first received help in the Supreme Court in the 1960’s in a case called Kent v. United States; this case started the due process for juveniles. The Supreme Court stated that “…the informal process of determining whether a juvenile should be tried in juvenile or in adult court failed to provide sufficient due process protection for children. The Court held that before a minor is transferred to adult court the child is entitled to an informal hearing where the trial court must articulate the reasons for the transfer so that the child can have an adequate record for appellate review.” (www.answers.com) One year later in 1967 the Court heard another case In Re Gault “…the Court determined that juveniles must at least receive alternative equivalents. Thus, in a juvenile delinquency trial, children are entitled to: (1) notice of the charges, (2) a right to counsel, (3) a right to confrontation and cross-examination, and (4) a privilege against self-incrimination.”(www.answers.com) The history from that point on has been slowly moving to giving juveniles the same protections as adults in the justice systems.
“Academic experts have long recognized that crime is a young man’s game. The typical criminal is a male who begins his career at 14 or 15, continues through his mid-20s and then tapers off into retirement. Three statistics demonstrate the disproportionate impact of those under the age of 18 on criminal activity: While comprising roughly one-sixth of the nation’s population, they make up a full one-quarter of all people arrested and account for nearly one-third of the arrests for the seven crimes in the Uniform Crime Index (homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, vehicle theft and larceny).” (www.Ihc.ca.gov)Juvenile experts believe the reasons why some juveniles commit crimes against society are because there are many influences that shape their decisions.
“The family is, therefore, an important factor in the forces that determine delinquency. The family determines a child’s class, structure, and development, and the nourishing process is vital to formation of a child’s development. Family exerts the most influence on a human being. Any severe disturbance in one or both parents can produce a devastating negative impact on a juvenile.” (Wickliffe, 2000)Environment plays a role in the lives of juveniles. It affects the manner in which they will react to the situations presented to them. The juvenile’s friends and associates influence and guide most of the decisions that are made. Juveniles usually commit crimes as a group and not so much on an individual basis.
Juvenile Programs to Prevent CrimeBecause of the many roots of crime, no single preventive program is the “silver bullet” that will halt juvenile crime. However mentoring is a type of youth program that has seen positive results. Communities throughout the nation have realized that trained, sworn law enforcement officers assigned to schools make a difference. Mentoring has been around for hundreds of years, yet it is a newly developing trend in law enforcement. When the lives of troubled youths are examined the triggers for their actions are multiple: Parents have failed, schools have failed, public organizations have failed, and communities have failed. The concept that there are consequences linked to decisions and actions is not passed down to children. To reinvigorate these elements into society requires that multiple strategies that be put into place according to specific needs of families, neighborhoods and communities.
•Purpose of the mentoring programThe purpose of the mentoring program is to teach at risk youth and their families about substance abuse, crime prevention, gang resistance, and positive community involvement. In 2002 the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that mentoring is a recognized violence prevention strategy and is most effective for youth in middle childhood (6-11years old). Since mentoring is most effective from an early age, it is imperative that the program begin at the kindergarten level and follow throughout the adolescent years. Participating in the mentoring programs provides alternatives to criminal delinquency and future criminal behavior. The mentoring program will introduce youth to the police officers and allow the youth to become more accepting of the police officer’s role in society.
•Participants of the mentoring programThe mentoring program will be focused on young people and their families who are at risk by virtue of individual factors (e.g. hyperactivity, and learning disabilities), family situation (e.g. unemployment, parental absences or incapacity) or community aspects (e.g., dangerous neighborhood) that may lead to crime and violence. The program will also be available to youth involved with guns, gangs, and drugs or exhibit delinquent or near delinquent behavior or youth who have witnessed or experienced violence•Location of program:The mentoring program will take place in every public school within the State of Utah.
•Time frame of programThe mentoring program will be continuously running fiscal year to fiscal year with the assistance of the Utah State Legislature, the Department of Education, the federal government programs and local municipality programs.
•General overview of program:Participating schools will benefit from the program. Local police departments will designate the officers in charge of each territory of the designated areas. Along with local community members, law enforcement officers will work with the youth on a variety of educational programs aimed at deterring youth and their families from crime while allowing the youth to learn valuable life-long learning skills.
Juvenile Courts and CorrectionsBecause programs will not deter all juvenile crime, Juvenile courts and corrections will continue to play a vital role in developing our youth. With methodical and calculated use of our courts and correctional systems in a juvenile justice world, we will attempt to prevent and deter crime overall. If we smartly invest money in the juvenile justice system, specifically in courts and corrections, we will ultimately save money by deterring youth from committing crimes as adults.
Because children often imitate their parent’s behaviors, when parents are introduced into the Justice system for crimes they have committed, DCFS will be dispatched to the offender’s residence. There they will assess and evaluate the home including the parents ability to properly raise children. Due to importance of parental presence in the lives of children, parents may defer time in prison by attending various mandatory self help and parenting classes along with community service. In substance abuse cases, parents will be required to go to become drug by attending rehab and drug counseling.
In the cases where these programs fail to prevent crime, counseling and behavior modification courses and activities will be the main objective for youth. However if these programs also fail a more “tough love” type of program will be enforced. Programs like “Scared Straight” where at risk youth are taken to prisons to see what awaits them if they continue in their ways. On this same vein, juvenile correction centers will be strict and more like adult prison. Instead of making it easy or dorm like, it will be a place that juveniles hope never to return to.
PrivatizationIn order to fund these programs, we recommend many of the programs and specifically the juvenile detention/correction centers, be outsourced to the private sector. Private companies wishing to be considered for outsourcing need to have been in business for a reasonable length of time (at least 5 years) and have contracts and facilities that are successfully ran in the private sector. The board’s decision to build future facilities privately has many advantages. First, recent public opinion has not been favorable toward the idea of using taxpayer dollars to build new jails. Education and transportation projects usually garner more support. In addition, private investors can build future facilities faster and cheaper than a public sponsored facility since they are able to take the lowest bid from a contractor.
Public sponsored buildings on-the-other-hand, must receive numerous bids from contractors, and in the end, does not guarantee that the lowest bid will be used. Private investors usually have an easier time securing the land that will be needed to build the facility. Private investors are also able to secure contracts with other companies at a better rate. These contracts are for services such as, food, medical, and clothing services. These sub-contract companies are willing to provide cheaper rates for long running contracts. Tight budgets are always an issue with any project. With the use of a private investor, the legislature can sign a contract and know exactly how much the facility will cost.
In addition to being privately funded, the board is also recommending the privatization of all daily operation inherent with new facilities. These private, sub-contract businesses will control all of the following in the facility:
•”Day-to-day oversight and management of all jail operations.
•Complete facility management, including design, construction, maintenance and renovation.
•All personnel services including hiring, training, payroll and benefits.
•Screening, booking and releasing of all inmates.
•Complete health care for all inmates including dental care and vision care.
•Educational, vocational, work and faith-based programming.
•Food and Nutrition services.
•Transportation services, including extraditions and court appearances.
The decision to go private will decrease the State’s liability from inmate lawsuits. The State will be considered indemnified through a “hold-harmless” clause in the contract with a private company. The private company will adhere to the American Correctional Association (ACA) guidelines and by doing so limit the county’s liability.
Programs Inside Juvenile Detention CentersPrograms offered at future juvenile facilities will be for the benefit of the inmates and the communities they will eventually reside in. Listed below are the programs and intended benefits.
•Program one: Read and Write Tutoring. Read and write tutoring will be offered to the inmates free of charge. This program will help the inmates learn to read and write past a 4th or 5th grade level. This program helps to educate the inmates so they will have a better chance at finding a decent job after they leave the jail.
•Program two: GED. The jail will provide GED classes for inmates of age (17), wishing to earn his or her certificate. The program will be taught by volunteers and will conduct classes four times a week. The inmate will have to master five subject areas: reading, writing, mathematics, social studies and science. “Studies have shown that GED attainment lowers recidivism rates by 20%.”(MCSO website).
•Program three: Critical Thinking. Critical thinking is a program designed to help the inmate change their way of thinking in certain situations. This program uses conflict to teach correct reactions to real life problems. The program will help the inmate understand consequences are the natural reaction to all decisions.
•Program four: 12 Step Program. 12 step programs are available for any inmate that wants to overcome an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. This program when followed will enable the inmates to stop using these harmful substances. This will help the inmate enter society without an addiction, specifically with drugs•Program 10: Anger Management. Anger Management is offered for the benefit of the inmates. This class helps demonstrate why controlling anger and taking the time to think before reacting to life’s problems is important. This program will allow the inmate to slow down and pinpoint where their aggression starts. This helps the inmate once they are released from jail, because as they enter society, they will need to control their temper.
As mentioned, youth commit a disproportionate amount of society’s crime. Police have a saying “There’s no such thing as an old street gangster”. Either they end up in prison where they cannot commit street crimes or they end up dead. It is our goal to prevent crime and deter criminal behavior by teaching youth. We will accomplish this with mentoring programs beginning in grade school, having the justice system/DCSF step in when parent’s criminal behavior will effect and influence their children’s behavior. Our juvenile detention centers will be strict but also offer many programs aimed at teaching young offenders new behaviors giving them new tools on how to live in society. The way we will pay for the additional costs for these programs is by privatizing youth detention centers.
http://www.Ihc.ca.gov/Ihcdir/127rp.html Retrieved March 15, 2008.
http://www.homepage.ntlworld.com/gary.sturt/crime/theocrim.htm Retrieved March 15, 2008Wickliffe, J. 2000. hhtp://yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/unit/2000/2/00.02.07.x.html#e Retrieved March 15, 2008http://www.njjjc.com/pdf/jjcsucessBW_2006_04.pdf Retrieved March 15, 2008http://ojjdp.ncjrs.org/funding/fy07awards.html Retrieved March 15, 2008http://www.answers.com/topic/juvenile-justice-system-in-re-gault-and-the-constitution Retrieved March 15, 2008