Effectiveness of Juvenile Correctional Facilities

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In the past few decades the problems of growing juvenile delinquency has become a great issue through the world. It is believed that juvenile delinquency is the vicious circle of cause and effect that mostly has psychological and emotional background in the environment of an individual. The correctional facilities are believed by many to be the right way for helping out to correct the hostile behavior of the young people. However, many cases had been observed of the repetition of anti-social behavior by the juveniles even after being issued from the correctional facility. It is logical to conclude that the problem still lies either in an unhealthy environment, or in the methods used by the correctional facilities. Looking at the problem of juvenile delinquency this paper researches whether juvenile correctional facilities are effective in meeting the needs of juvenile offenders. Using a review of current literature this paper will examine whether or not juvenile correctional facilities are effective in meeting the needs of juvenile offenders and reducing recidivism rates.

First, the crimes committed by underage individuals are more and more common. According to Carcach (1999) almost 50% of the crimes are committed by the individuals under the age of 18. Almost 40% of juvenile offenders commit consecutive crimes. The most of the juvenile offenders are at ages between 15 and 17 years. Starting as early as the end of 18th century, churches were used as the controls that dealt with the juvenile misconduct. Proven ineffective during the fled of Western European immigration to American cities in search of employment posed a threat for escalating delinquency problem and its control systems. Today, behavior correctional institutions are more socially oriented having various programs developed for meeting the psychological needs of the delinquents. According to the author: “Programs which target young offenders who reappear relatively soon after their first court appearance may contribute to a reduction in recidivism and rates of juvenile crime generally”.

Juvenile correctional facility is an institution that detains young individuals who have committed a crime that had been sentenced by a juvenile court. These centers are developed for the dangerous offenders that pose a threat to society and need to be detained under supervision from escaping. In their research Andrews and Dowden () answer the question about what treatment programs would work for helping the young offenders in the correctional facilities. For this, the researchers developed a met-analysis of the relevant literature review of “psychologically informed principles of human service, risk, need and general responsivity” (p. 1). The researchers had been studying the responsiveness to contributing tests of treatment for the principles of human service, risk, need and responsivity. In such a way, academic, anger or antisocial behavior, self-control, family issues, pro-social model of behavior, supervision, vocational skills, substance abuse, job, antisocial peers interaction and relapse prevention are also defined among the criminogenic targeted needs that correlate with the effect size of increased recidivism in the intervention group. Nonetheless, Andrews and Dowden have discovered that the noncriminogenic needs are as important in determining the effectiveness of the program as the criminogenic aspects. These include vague emotional or personal problems, physical activity, family interactions, fear of punishment, cohesive antisocial peers, target self-esteem, increase conventional ambition, respect of antisocial thinking. In the conclusion the researchers state that the following findings suggest that “clinically relevant and psychologically informed approaches to reducing recidivism, outlined by many of the scholars of the rehabilitation literature, are indeed effective for young offender populations.”

However, such programs that had developed the following programs are the best case scenarios in theory. Bayer and Pozen (2004) write in their research that the facilities for young delinquents are distinguished by following types: private for-profit, private nonprofit, public state-operated, and public county-operated which differ by recidivism outcomes and costs. The authors write that in order “to predict recidivism, we use a linear probability model relating recidivism to facility management type and other control variables, including variables that characterize criminal history, individual attributes, neighborhood attributes, facility attributes, and judicial circuit” (2004). The scientists correlate the institution management type with the outcomes after the individuals are issued: whether they continued to perform antisocial behavior or not. According to the results, the individuals who have been issued from for-profit facilities are indicated with 57.3 % of re-adjudication within the year of release. The nonprofit facilities point 8 % less likely to recidivate than from the for-profit institutions, whether the state facilities show 6.3 % less likely to do so. In the course of the research such factors as “or observable individual characteristics including sex, race, age at first offense, age at exit, and the length of time in the facility” have been also measured (2004). The findings indicate that “State, Nonprofit, and County facilities are more effective at reducing recidivism than For-profit ones” (Bayer and Pozen 2004).

Unfortunately, often the juvenile delinquents instead of being helped while detention in the correctional facility can become victim of sexual assault either from peers or from the staff themselves. The Review Panel of Prison Rape (2010) reports the findings on sexual victimization in juvenile correctional facilities. As according to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) (2003) juvenile sexual offence is surveyed by each facility. According to the report female staff of correctional institutions is found more often having inappropriate sexual encounters with male delinquents, reasons for which are not studied. The instances of sexual intercourse and rape among the youth offenders within the walls of such institutions are also spotted. The causes of sexual interactions among the juveniles within the correctional institution have mostly psychological interpretation. It is also indicated that males, homosexuals, and Blacks were more likely to perform sexual activity with staff then females, heterosexual, and the Whites. Nonetheless, it had been discovered that the females were more likely to report sexual abuse then males. The individuals who had been assaulted before were much more likely to report the sexual assault. In overall, almost two thirds of the delinquents are being sexually assaulted in the correctional institutions. As a result, the highlighted existing problems of sexual assault affect psychoemotional state of the young people, standing on the way for correction, creating the need for revenge.

Carcach and Leverett (1999) state that the multiple causes of juvenile recidivism include multiple factors that include “early developmental issues, personal characteristics that remain stable over the entire life, the social and economic environment surrounding individuals, the age of onset to delinquency, the length and intensity of delinquent careers, and the responses of the justice system” (p. 22). Theoretically being the best place for correcting juvenile behavior, the correctional facilities can’t provide the solution for juvenile offending issue, states the Recidivism Among Juvenile Offenders (p. 25). While the programs for such facilities are being developed only on paper, the management type of juvenile correctional facilities determines the percentage of repeated felony. In addition, the conditions within the walls of the facilities, such as sexual assault from both staff and youth on youth sexual offence decrease the effectiveness of the institutional functions. Therefore, in such a way it has been proved that juvenile correctional facilities are not effective in meeting the needs of juvenile offenders and reducing recidivism rates.

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