Factors Behind the Declined Juvenile Incarceration
The consistent decline in the juvenile crime reveals a perfect opportunity for the country to encourage and reinforce factors propelling de-incarceration strategies. Firstly, the juvenile crime rates has sharply fallen since 2006 with the current economic crisis forcing the cash-strapped states to resort to cheaper alternatives that suit their budget cuts. The convergence of this trend produces a remarkable reduction of the juvenile incarceration rates. Although the budget cuts have substantially contributed to the decline, budget cuts have stimulated the rethink on reducing youth confinement. Notably, the results demonstrate proven evidence that America should desist from mass incarceration in solving the complex challenges facing the youths. It emphasizes that policy changes at the federal and state levels have immensely reduced the incarcerated numbers in the realization that there exist no need to spend more money by locking up minors in ineffective programs. It strikes in the long-term belief shared by opponents of the punitive approach, that cheaper alternatives suiting the huge budget cuts in most states is combatting the negative consequences of locking-up the nonviolent youths (Paulson, 2013).
The reduction in the youth confinement occurring in the United States, replicates in forty four states as they attain half cuts on juvenile incarceration rates. Besides the push from the economic strain arising from huge budget cuts, the decline barely arises from broad-based approaches embraces through national consensus. Rather, the de-incarceration trend arises from the diverse influences and unique, idiosyncratic changes effected to the treatment policy within the states. This partially derives from leadership shifts and lawsuits that have blended to optimize on the mounting budget pressures (Casey, 2013). Application of cheaper alternatives has demonstrated a moving-forward society with recent de-incarceration proving an opportunity to address youth delinquency through cost-effective and humane treatment. Again, it translates to better outcomes by providing early intervention through approaches that involve young people in the participative platform rather than hardening them in punitive incarceration.
The accomplishment of the declining incarceration rates for the juveniles arises from the application of alternative forms of treating these offenders. The alternatives to the traditional long-term juvenile incarceration include victim-offender mediation, community-based wrap-around care, and integrative after-care programs in boot camps, alongside diversions. While the general public perceives juvenile offenders as malicious criminals propagating a widespread vice in the society, getting tough through punitive solutions yields little accomplishments. It places importance to encourage cheaper and effective platforms through alternative correctional treatment that gradually has reduced the juvenile incarceration rates. In this light, the evaluation of the effectiveness in addressing juvenile delinquency entails the focus of this research to yield the acknowledgement of neglecting stricter and more punitive measures of treatment. Additionally, to accomplish the corrective approach that best serves the youthful offenders and their host communities mandates examination of alternative strategies essential in understanding what has proven effective in reducing juvenile incarceration.
The acknowledgement of placing the offender through retributive actions mandating reconciliation between the victims and offenders has emerged an effective approach to stimulate social-work treatment to address juvenile delinquency. The mediation process yields a channel for victims to confront their offenders. This enables both parties understand that juvenile crime and delinquency invokes the actual humanity as opposed to faceless offenders and victims. The process demands facilitation of an individual neither directly nor indirectly involved in the dispute. This eliminates potential subjective element, thus assisting feuding parties attain an acceptable settlement (Barbarin, 2010). Although this involves several steps, generating an informal gathering is preferable for all parties to experience comfort during the process.
While the mediation process may occur in diverse settings including schools and neighbourhoods, the primary focus expressed in the court settings target youths committing non-violent offenses. This has commonly targeted youths involved in burglary, theft and vandalism acts where the juvenile justice system brings together the offenders and adult victims. However, the court system refers the offenders to the mediation processes as determined by the degree of the offense and whether they have previously participated in the system. While this platform has prevented juvenile offenders mainly committing non-violent crimes from juvenile incarceration, it proves unviable for resolving violent offenses and domestic abuse cases.
The concept of mediation victims and offenders traces to the belief on principles of accomplishing and maintaining peace through mediation. It locates rights for the victims to be heard and involved in the process of restoring justice by acknowledging that conflicting parties must establish ownership over the final solution. Importantly, using mediation decreases the frequency upon which the court system shrinks its frequent interference in the ordinary lives of people. In particular, embracing mediation through reconciliatory programs results in decreased use of the prison facilities. This demonstrates that referring youths guilty of committing non-violent crimes shields them from incarceration (Barbarin, 2010). This generates the complete retribution process where offenders consult with their adult victims, thus conveying justice while avoiding the institutional settings that have traditionally served the delinquent youths.
The mediation principle buttresses the restorative justice concept that humanizes the justice system. The focus shifts from vindictiveness to resolve the challenge by regarding the offense as against a fellow individual rather than against the state. As more parties welcome mediation, it retracts from the customary court-mandated decisions to accord victims a participative role in the proceedings (Njoku, Stites, Gra, Bryan, & Greber, 2010). This empowers the justice process to yield satisfaction to both parties at the present and the future by wiping out repeat offenses committed by the delinquent juveniles.
The success shared in the mediation program enables the youth to learn by negotiating and view the crimes as offending a named individual rather than nameless victims represented by the state. This translates into a hopeful remorse trend as the offenders become more emphatic to potential crime victims. On the other hand, the victims benefit from the sense of closure in the incident and they attain empowerment from controlling the outcome. Equally, the ability to confront the offenders assist them decide on the retribution, rather than experiencing victimization by the court justice as they passively follow the discussion (Casey, 2013).
Community-based Wrap-around Care
Among the mandates arising from the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (1974) was recommending treatment strategies for youths ruled delinquent through community-based models. As an alternative to detaining youths adjudicated in the traditional detention units and resident institutions, the community-based approach demonstrated a shift towards corrective care and prevents them from re-offending.As Northey and Christensen (1997) acknowledged while describing comprehensive model to derive community care, an eco-systemic natural setting should capture the strengths and support role models in the family. Additionally, the authors assert that a wraparound care should focus on the available strengths manifested in the natural environment founded on the shared values and beliefs within the family (Griffin, 2010).
The natural wraparound care provided to the delinquent youths has immensely declined the number of incarcerated youths. The models founded on the principle that the family of the juvenile offender rarely requires to embrace new values or morals to eliminate further delinquency. To the contrary, the families maintain their usual value system while involving the immediate people to mode the life of the youths on elements of self-esteem, peer pressure and self-concept. Furthermore, this model may take place in the community and family context to utilize persons who have established a close relationship. This translates to an ideal setting for the offender in a process affirmed in the existing strengths to solve the problem through a self-discovery of the virtues. Equally, it yields a seamless inclusion of the offender to the community, despite the departure of the professional therapist owing to the support system that remains intact (Griffin, 2010).
The importance of the community participation in preventing adjudicated youths from the delinquent behaviour arises from its inclusive aspect. Often, juveniles completing their terms encounter social difficulties when integrating with the other members of their community. This arises from the disjointed platform between the institution and the social settings. However, community-based interventions bridge this gap by providing an interactive platform for the youths ruled delinquent through the support-adults. The models yield positive impact to the youth by prioritizing to foster coping skills and self-efficacy. This generates the much required moral care-giving and integration aide through unconditional terms. In this light, it influences the satisfaction of the youths through immediate virtue-based services that translate to the discovery of self-control in future acting-out scenario. The unconditional approach to change their behavior correlates to fewer acting-out cases that gradually has reduced the incarceration rates. While community-based treatment programs exist today, most focus on revamping the child welfare system comprehensively, rather than emphasize on the adjudicated youths (Griffin, 2010).
Intensive After-care Program in Boot Camps
The search for appropriate treatments through shock juvenile incarceration yields rehabilitation platforms for youths ruled as delinquent. This has gradually proved an alternative to mode their behavior after a century where punitive punishment has failed the society and the young offenders as well. In light of this, using boot camps protects the safety of the general public while facilitating positive development for the youths. It becomes favorable by facilitating mid-level treatment option of being tough on crime while applying the much-needed structure of education to the adolescents (Wells, Minor, Angel, & Stearman, 2009).
While the boot camp approach has overly been criticized for mimicking a militarized environment, its use has benefited juveniles through job-training, educational opportunities and community-oriented services. The criticism of the approach for replicating the residential program in traditional prisons has stimulated reforms for lesser programs of six months with the extensive aftercare rehabilitation program. The positive contribution of boot camps besides reduction of juvenile incarceration is appeasing the public desires for conveying punishment to the offenders. However, it yields dual gains to the victims and offenders where the latter obtains job training skills that ease their integration into the society. Equally, the approach yields a cost-effective treatment of youths convicted of non-violent offenses as they divert them from serving lengthier prison terms. This reduces the prison population (Wells, Minor, Angel, & Stearman, 2009).
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