People may often times remember their youth as a troubling period where they made many mistakes. There are a number of individuals that believe this age group has the ability to be rehabilitated and set on the right path. This will help them avoid a life of crime and one in jail. Since juvenile delinquency is a complex area, those who are involved with the legal aspects try to balance both the needs of the youth with the public’s needs for punishment. It can be a difficult task, but studies show there is hope with new methods.
Recognizing the Problem
Over the past several years, teen to teen offenses have increased. The court is clogged with cases of this nature due to the upsurge. Many of these offenses are gang related, random acts of violence, or even stem from a domestic abuse issue. When an offender is underage, courts punish less severely than they would if they were an adult. However, the type of crime does have some bearing on the sentence too.
Possible Reasons for Youth Offenses
When teenagers have children, they often leave them with whoever will care for them. When the child is old enough to watch themselves, they are often left alone for extended period of time. While home alone, they find all sorts of things to get into. They may seek companionship with whoever will give it to them, both positive and negative. Gangs seek out people like this, those who have little parental supervision. The youth craves discipline and structure that they do not have at home. Within every gang, a leader emerges and keeps the group together. They seem to institute some sort of order within the chaos.
Historical Information on Youth Offenders
In days gone by, children were involved in slave labor. Children were often thrown into the prison system that was overpopulated by adults. This system ensured they would commit a crime again. Many became repeat offenders. When a child became of age in the system, they were given menial jobs to keep them busy. Many children were forced to work long hours in environments that were oppressive at best. When this system was discovered, labor laws were changed. A separate court system was established to help avoid slave labor and to rehabilitee these children.
Many feel that the youth need rehabilitation and do not need to be behind bars. If more focus was put on the underlying issues, it could help them to forgo a life of crime. Sending a juvenile to jail does little to help the problems. Therapy is a good option. Discovering why the child is in a state of unrest is helpful in finding peace within themselves and their home. Some think therapy efforts are futile. Some believe in using harsher methods like allowing them to tour prison facilities and shock them back into reality.
Fixing the Issue
About 40 percent of young males in inner-city areas have been arrested at least once by their 18th birthday. Numerous studies show that these offenders that are treated like adults with harsh sentences go on to a life of crime. However, those who have alternative methods of correction seem to fair better. Imprisoning youthful offenders causes great disruption within their family and the community. Juvenile delinquency can tear a community apart.
One of the best preventative measures for these offenders is a strong family bond. The community needs to stick together regarding these juveniles and it can help rather than hurt. Families need to have a foundation and ways to get help when their child has committed a youth related crime. Support groups to assist throughout the treatment process is also advantageous.
There are many areas that already have a youthful offender programs in place. They offer many resources such as:
- Mentor Programs
- Lenient Sentences
- Juvenile Probation instead of Jail
- Family Support
- Drug Rehabilitation
The generation of tomorrow needs help today. Those who have committed a crime at a young age can have their record erased by the time they reach adulthood. Those who comply with the program will find it has great results. Those that continue to cause problems will end up in a juvenile detention center.
The Need for a Lawyer to Help
If your child or a loved one has committed an offense, you need a juvenile defense lawyer that knows the criminal justice system for youth and how to involve the family in rehabilitation. It is a difficult process to share all of this information with your attorney, but in order to have a good legal defense, you must be open and honest about what is going on. Many times the court wants a character witness to help with deciding the fate of the case. These witnesses can be family or friends that know the person. The accused should also be ready to take the stand and tell the judge or jury what they have done. Being honest is always better than lying. Throwing themselves on the mercy of the courts can get them the help they need to change the course of their life.