Controversies of the Juvenile Justice System

By | May 17, 2017

Juvenile Justice System Essay Sample

There has been much debate regarding the juvenile justice system. People still question whether it is necessary to treat juvenile offenders like the adult ones. Some suggest that they require rehabilitation, not punishment as a stimulus to change their lives (Min, 2014). Others disagree and claim that strict punishment is the only effective way to deter potential offenders and teach juveniles to take responsibility for their crimes. As far as I am concerned, there should be a balance between punishment and rehabilitation. What these young people need the most is the guidance and support to find the new meaning in life and work towards the better future. At the same time, they should be aware that their actions have consequences, so I think that reasonable punishment is acceptable and useful in this situation.

To begin with, I should point that I do not believe that juveniles should not be held responsible for their actions. However, I think that the way the current system treats most of these offenders is somewhat deficient and inadequate. Juveniles cannot be punished in accordance with the principle of penal proportionality because they are irresponsible, immature, and susceptible to adult and peer-pressure (Scott, 2012). They are also short-sighted and do not yet realize the consequences of their crimes. Furthermore, the decision to place juvenile offenders in adult prisons has a destructive effect on their personalities and denies them the better future. The problem is that young people are susceptible to negative influences and tend to join gangs and use weapons to survive in the harsh conditions of a prison (Scott, 2012). When they are released, their criminal past and newly formed identity prevent them from building normal lives.

Rehabilitation is not only reasonable but also a practical solution to the problem because it both prevents re-offending and helps young people rethink and change their actions and behavior (Steinberg, 2015). I admit that some offenders like, for example, Sarah Johnson who plotted to kill her family or a church shooter Dylann Roof cannot be helped. Yet, I am convinced that the majority of young offenders still have a chance to build better lives and become law-abiding citizens. To summarize, I think that adult punishment should be used sparingly while the focus of the juvenile justice system should be on rehabilitating offenders.

References:
Min, L. H. (2014). Juvenile justice: Where rehabilitation takes center stage. Singapore: Academy Publishing.

Scott, G. (2012, June 5). Prison is too violent for young offenders. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/06/05/when-to-punish-a-young-offender-and-when-to-rehabilitate/prison-is-too-violent-for-young-offenders

Steinberg, L. (2015, 6 February). Sentences should acknowledge juveniles’ maturity, and immaturity. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/06/05/when-to-punish-a-young-offender-and-when-to-rehabilitate/sentences-should-acknowledge-juveniles-maturity-and-immaturity

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