Procedures Regarding Rehabilitation of Juvenile Offenders in the Justice System

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Juvenile justice systems are getting rehabilitation wrong by indirectly telling young offenders that they are bad and criminals for life. The contents of this report will offer insight on current procedures regarding rehabilitation of juvenile offenders in the justice system. In order to understand the negative current processes, I took a look at professors and researchers findings on the effects of criminalising and coercing these young people, by limited diversionary programs and low governance. I also dove into the portrayal of juvenile offenders in the media. The media’s image of these young people is an essential factor to rehabilitation, because young offenders will not positively change without a positive support system behind them, whether it be in the justice system or the outer world. This policy brief will also provide some logical methods to improve the ways the system can be more beneficial to reintegration of young offenders. These methods include early intervention strategies, specialized courts, and positive media influences.

Rehabilitation of young people in juvenile justice systems is a disregarded issue that needs to be fixed to some degree. In order to improve this issue, people need to be knowledgeable about the problems that young offenders are facing when entered into the justice system. These problems include physical attacking, assaults, marginalism, and lack of support. These young people are disregarded, and their welfare is being shut down due to the stigma of juvenile justice systems around the world. The problems can be fixed if enough important people are aware of how easy it is to help and encourage positive rehabilitation- this may start with early intervention, or it may start with positive media portrayal of young criminals.

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Juvenile criminals who are put in the justice system are being forgotten, being looked down upon, and being put in negative social environments. Being forgotten is one of the many issues that lead to juvenile delinquents feeling uncared for, ultimately urging them to feel as if they are not worth being helped at all. This leads to persistent offending, which is a major negative side effect of the way the system is run. The way the system is run deams young deviants to be bad and ‘as risk’ to others by criminalising and coercing them. The portrayal of these young people as ‘as risk’ creates an image that they are bad and they should not be reintegrated into society, as they will only continue to be deviant because of their anti-social behavior. This ties to being looked down on. When juvenile delinquents are placed in a system where they feel ‘unsafe’, and where they are being scolded while facing harsh conditions such as being hit, kicked, and assaulted. In these conditions, they do not positively change themselves. If there were more ‘restorative, rehabilitating’ and integrative treatment options, they may feel a more positive change in themselves, and when they are released, they will reflect that feeling so society can think of them more positively as well. However, because of the way the systems criminalize juvenile delinquents, they may feel nothing but negatively about themselves because that is what they are told. That is what society is told, as well. The third important issue is that due to the social setting and environment of juvenile systems, young delinquents are meeting the wrong types of acquaintances and when released, are making the wrong decisions because of those acquaintances.

Research done by some professors and researchers explains how we have been and are currently experiencing what Professor Armstrong calls, “a crisis of governance rather than a crisis of youth”. Juvenile justice systems around the world are lacking rehabilitation and treatment methods that would create a better system, in which young people can feel safe and restored. Professors, authors, and researchers have tried explaining the issue and the possible resolutions to the problems that the criminal justice system delivers. Jordan & Farrell, in their article on juvenile justice diversions, aim to identify the problem with their main focus on limited diversionary options for young criminal. They offer three possible factors that facilitate whether diversion is negative or positive. These three factors are where the young person resides, the level of resources attainable, and the level of commitment received. Often young deviants are considered as ‘outsiders’, which facilitates powerful negativity towards them, and ultimately is why they are inevitably being criminalised and marginalised. Researchers found that there is less tolerance for younger people living in rural areas. This is a problem because it helps support the residential factor that influences negative diversion efforts. Jordan and Farrell argue that the level of commitment by the government to better the juvenile justice system is low, and they offer some potential and actual ways which can help improve resources and commitment (these ways will be examined later in this policy brief). Armstrong would agree that commitment is low, with his view that the problem is not the criminal, nor the crime, but it is the governance. Dr. Goldson, of the University of Liverpool, also supports this in his article, saying that- of the millions of people under correctional supervision, most of them are “often subject to rigorous modes of regulation, monitoring and surveillance”. He argues that “this has little, if anything, to do with the incidence or severity of crime, rather it is the consequence of political posturing and ‘get tough’ policies”.

Goldson has three aims to target why juvenile justice systems are poor. He considers the reliability of staff training. Goldson introduces the problem that “low staffing levels tend to prohibit any meaningful engagement between staff and child prisoners”. By introducing this problem, it makes it easier to dive into what is really going on in the juvenile justice systems, and this evidence helps support the importance of this policy brief. Goldson says that “expertly developed and refined knowledge and skills, together with ongoing professional training, are required to meet the complex needs of child prisoners”. This most definitely is a recommendation for the problem that needs are not being met.

There is evidence that persistent offending is common when juvenile systems are providing negative reintegration practices. Jordan and Farrell describe a longitudinal study of 1037 Canadian men, in which it was found that involvement in the juvenile system increased their likelihood of involvement in the adult justice system. This clearly shows the lack of reintegration skills that are not being strongly encouraged within these systems. This can be backed up by the studies further findings, which confirm that the more restrictive interventions are, the more it would negatively impact their life later on.

The portrayal of juvenile crime in the media enhances the view of young criminals as ‘as risk’. The media can be a considerably moderate factor to rehabilitation. We can not just look at what the system is doing wrong with regards to rehabilitation, but we have to look at what is being done in the outside world because it contributes equally to the rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents. What is being done to create an image of young criminals in the media is equally as criminalising and coercive as the negativity and harsh conditions young offenders face in the system. Goldson touches on the fact that projecting young offenders as criminals to the world has negative side effects. The media is a damaging environment, as it spreads theories fast. It is a very enticing and believable source. Putting delinquent, but also vulnerable children in damaging environments creates issues such as family strain, negative behavior traits being reinforced, intimidation and violence, and stigmatisation. To support that, author of ‘Public Opinion and Youth Justice’ (2004), Roberts, contributes with her main focus on pessimistic public views on offenders and their future offending. Roberts reiterates the fact that the appearances of violence and lethal violence in the media creates moral panic and sets the trend for the public to fear juvenile criminals. To continue this point, Welch, Price, and Yankey, from Rutgers University, use the Central Park Jogger attack as an example in their article. This example is used by explaining the way the media portrayed the attack. According to Welch, Price, and Yankey, the media described the teenage perpetrators as ‘wilding’, which is “associated with urban culture, along with mugging, looting, gang banging, drive-by shootings, and carjacking. Moreover, those buzz words generally are racially biased because they are introduced to describe Black”. Hence, this clarifies Roberts research that indicates that moral panic occurs due to instances like this.

In order for juvenile criminals to reintegrate into society, rehabilitation in juvenile justice systems can improve by developing methods in which young criminals can feel restored. Jordan and Farrell developed the three levels in which positive rehabilitation can begin. The first one is “crime prevention strategies”, which aim to prevent criminality in the first place. The second one is “diversionary schemes”, which aim to “divert young offenders away from the criminal system as early as possible”. The third one is “sentencing options”, which aim to prevent young people from custodial sentences. Jordan and Farrell introduce the idea of specialized courts in order to problem solve. Having specialized courts, such as The Victorian Children’s Court, can be a good diversionary approach because they “prioritise certain needs of the young offender”. This is important as it helps promote early intervention to help limit persistent offending.

Another way of improving the rehabilitation of young people in juvenile justice systems can be to change the way the media projects young people in the context of crime. By educating the public about the need for young offenders to be supported and restored, it will be easier for reintegration. Having easier reintegration can also help implement other ways of addressing the issue, such as group sessions and volunteer work.

Although early intervention is not as regarded and implemented as it should be, there are still efforts seen to help rehabilitation. Authors Sampson and Laub focus on the life-course model and stability, which can relate to early intervention. They discuss studies that show that some traits are shown to be persistent. For example, in their research, they found that aggression is a persistent trait. This can be avoided by promoting early intervention strategies. Focusing on turning negative traits into positive traits at a young age is proven to be beneficial. By discussing the life course theory with extensive research, Sampson and Laub conclude that notable life events influence behavior in a person for their life. If there is negative behavior and it is not regarded, then it becomes an issue, later on seen as deviant behavior or persistent offending. Yet, by catching it at an early age, we can prevent persistent deviant behavior.

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Procedures Regarding Rehabilitation of Juvenile Offenders in the Justice System. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from
“Procedures Regarding Rehabilitation of Juvenile Offenders in the Justice System.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022,
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