The juvenile correction system

The juvenile correction system

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The juvenile structure is designed to rehabilitate and transform the traits of teenagers to be better people in the society. According to most American states, a juvenile is a person who is aged less than 18 years of age (Alarcon, 2004). There have been incidences where sections of the youth take advantage of the leniency of the system to protect them although the system was designed to correct and transform the teenagers into law abiding citizens. Juvenile offenders often get shorter jail terms as compared to elders. In prison, they are transformed and trained to be obedient and law-abiding citizens (Alarcon, 2004). However in as much as the government tries to have a soft spot for the teenagers, some commit very violent crimes such as rape, drug peddling and robbery with violence. Such crimes are very serious, and the culprits should be dealt with fairly in accordance with the law. A large proportion of teens that have been through the juvenile system have been transformed into law abiding citizens than those who go through the criminal system where many end up being hard core criminals.

When a teen commits a crime, there is a higher possibility of recidivism. If a teenager commits murder, in most cases it is out of frustration, acting out of impulse, and mostly the action is done without having a second thought. The decision may have been because of desperation, and such a person can be transformed into an obedient and law-abiding citizen (Alarcon, 2004). If by chance such an individual is thrown in a prison that is composed of hard core criminals, there is a likelihood that once the child finishes his/ her jail term he/ she will become a serious hard core criminal. Sending such young children will only increase the number of young criminals who turn out to be even more violent and traumatize the society.

Similarly, when juveniles commit crimes, most likely it is, as a result, of missing out on a particular stage in their development. Such situation diverts the offence to the parent who failed to properly train, transform and modify the trait of the child to be a law abiding citizen. Before a child reaches the age of over 18 years, it is the duty of the parent to teach a child on being responsible and enlighten the child on the society’s do’s and don’ts and also emphasize the possible consequences of breaking the laws.

The American department of justice estimates that a total of nearly more than 33,000 teenagers are arrested for committing offences (Asbridge, 2007). A further estimated 10% of all homicides committed in the USA are committed by teenagers who are aged below 18 years (Peters, 2011). In 2010, for instance, the number of violent crimes increased sharply for more than 30% (Asbridge, 2007). Research also shows that adolescents are not too young to distinguish wrong and right. Studies confirm that teens have the ability of acting out of impulse and emotions (Peters, 2011). The ability to understand and comprehend their actions but having limited control over their emotions proves that they are not in the same class as adults and, therefore, need to be rehabilitated and guided the right way.

In a 1996 study conducted in Florida by North-eastern University researcher called Donna Bishop, the results were a large proportion of juveniles taken to the criminal system were more likely to be involved in recidivism. In the analysis, a total of 2738 juveniles taken to the criminal system and the results were they more likely to be rejuvenated just like those who were through the juvenile system though it took a little longer (Alarcon, 2004). The proportion that were taken through the criminal system, within a period of two years they were more likely to commit more criminal offences than they had done before they were earlier imprisoned (Peters, 2011). From such statistics, it is evident that convicting teenagers through the criminal system does not transform them as expected but instead makes them hard core criminals.

In a separate study conducted by Jeffrey Fagan; a Columbia University researcher made a comparison between 16 year olds that were charged with burglary and robbery in New Jersey and New York states. The two states have similar laws regarding robbery and burglary although the laws of New York require if a 16 year old commits an offence he/ she is sentenced in a criminal court while the latter in a Juvenile court (Alarcon, 2004). A total of randomly selected offenders 800 in number who committed the two crimes were sampled for each of the states (Peters, 2011). It was observed that a total of more than 70% of the teenagers prosecuted in criminal courts were further rearrested after being freed while 65% of those who went through the juvenile courts were rearrested (Peters, 2011). Although the differences were minimal, it is clear that the likelihood of committing crimes if juveniles went through the criminal system was very high as compared to those that went through the juvenile court system.

Convicting juveniles using the criminal system is more economic setbacks to the country because of a number of reasons for instance; when the state will spend a lot in maintaining the teenager in prison with the hope that once he/ she leaves jail he/ she will be of benefit to the economy by applying the practical training he has gone through in prison for the better of the economy only to commit another crime and be sentenced to back to prison after a short duration.

The minors often commit the crimes out of emotion and anger. Sentencing the children to serve in criminal jails where there are no proper emotional and psychological structures that will help mentally transform the child is of little benefit to the child (Asbridge, 2007). Lack of psychological counselling may make these young and mentally unstable teens even to commit suicide because they feel that they did not deserve such sentence, they feel their family will reject them, and they will as well lose their social friendship circle. It is from this solitude that a suicide is committed.

The decision making ability of teenagers and adults vary considerably. In fact, teenagers differ in terms of rights and freedom as compared to adults. The variation means that the manners in which the two different groups are likely to commit crime also differ. A scientific study conducted to examine the mental and psychological reaction to fear and aggression differ when comparing adults and adolescents. The frontal cortex is a section of the brain that controls the human reasoning and response to situations (Asbridge, 2007). In the teenage age bracket, the region is not fully developed and with time as a teenager matures the region also develops to maturity. The growth of this part of the brain affects the way the child thinks and decides that differs from an adult whose mental growth has reached maturity and therefore is able to make the correct decisions as compared to a teen. Such circumstance qualifies that the teens cannot be on the same mental and psychological scale as the adults and therefore deserves a properly designed junior court system that is designed to incorporate the intellectual and physical progress of the young generation (Singer, 2012).

On the moral perspective, it is unjust and against societal norms sentencing a 12 year old to a life sentence. The child committed the crime out of emotion and the best remedy for such a crime is offering psychological support, rehabilitation with a well-designed form of punishment that will transform the teenager transform his/ her traits. On the same line, there are privileges that the teens do not access to like their adult counterparts. They cannot drive, sign legal contracts, drink, marry or get married reasons being that they incapable of making well informed and proper decisions like the adults. The lack of proper development of the cerebellum section of the brain that controls their impulses makes them lack the ability to critically analyse a situation before acting.

Contrary, there are some crimes that cannot be taken lightly even if they are committed by teens. Some of them are rape, robbery with violence amongst others because such crimes have serious impacts both socially, physically and mentally to the victims as well as the victim’s family (Singer, 2012). Juveniles who commit such crimes should not be taken to criminal systems but instead should face serious punishments blended with an extensive rehabilitation programme. Proper juvenile sentences to such culprits ensure that justice is done to the victim who suffered a lot.


Proper parenting and child support is essential in the proper transformation and upbringing of the children behaviours and traits. Proper parental base ensures that children are well brought up and are able to distinguish what is right or wrong. Such upbringing transforms the morals of teens to an extent that they avoid doing what is wrong because they know that they will face serious consequences if they do wrong. Juveniles who commit Crimes such as robbery with violence, murder and rape should not receive jail terms equivalent to adults because such acts are unacceptable and very offending not only to the victim’s family alone but also to the society but should face tougher punishment that fits their age bracket (Singer, 2012).

The high school syllabus should be designed to incorporate anger management classes to help them in mental and psychological development. Such classes will help a large proportion of the young generation to be able take care of their emotional being hence make them better citizens. The ability to be able to know right and wrong is different from understanding both the short and long term impacts and consequences that may occur when a teenager commits a crime (Asbridge, 2007). There is a big difference between the correction modes applied in juvenile and criminal systems. The former emphasizes on rehabilitation while the latter provides a sentence equivalent to the crime committed (Singer, 2012). Imprisoning young offenders in the criminal system leads to an increment in criminal rates especially when the teens is freed from the jail and also causes an increment in the prison management costs because of the increased number of convicts.


Alarcon, F. (2004, February 1). Juvenile Corrections: Why Would Anyone Want to Work in This Business?. Corrections Today, 3, 2.

Asbridge, C. S. (2007, October 1). Sexual Assault in Juvenile Corrections: A Preventable Tragedy. Corrections Today, 1, 3.

Peters, C. S. (2011, February 1). Juvenile Recidivism-Measuring Success or Failure: Is There a Difference?. Corrections Today, 2, 3.

Singer, W. (2012, June 22). Judicial Intervention and Juvenile Corrections Reform: A Case Study of Jerry M. V. District of Columbia. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 2, 3.

Training programs for juvenile corrections professionals juvenile correction, juvenile detention : service plan, June 1, 2002 – May 31, 2003.. (2002). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Justice, National Institute of Corrections :.