Treatment of juvenile offenders is an interesting topic for discussion. Most of the population prefers to ignore this issue since it is a very serious subject matter to debate on from the moral point of view. It is necessary to acknowledge the differences between adolescent and adult offenders. Springer and Roberts (2007) claim that “despite the high prevalence of both mental health and substance use diagnoses in the juvenile justice system, few randomized intervention studies have been conducted in juvenile justice settings” (p. 174). Therefore, it is hard to state that there is a connection between the use of drugs and alcohol, and criminal behavior in youth.
While some treatment options can’t be used on young people, Cognitive-behavioral treatment is both effective with adult and juvenile offenders.Scientists have used different methods in their interventions, such as solving problems, learning of compassion and attitude, and prevention of possible relapse. Very effective approach in treatment of juvenile offenders is Reasoning & Rehabilitation program, developed by Canadian criminologists Ross and Fabiano “the main purpose of the R&R program is to improve participants’ thinking skills, training them to be more reflexive (as opposed to reactive), open-minded, and capable of planning” (Redondo, Martínez-Catena, & Andrés-Pueyo, 2012, p. 160-161).Another thought-provoking topic for discussion is transfer policies. As stated by Kupchik (2006) “policymakers who create transfer policies promote them as a means to provide more severe punishments for violent and chronically offending youth” (p. 109). And they are indeed questionable, as they may even lead to increasing in crime rates.
Some types of offenses are mostly committed only by young people. Juveniles rarely commit crimes against people and are more likely arrested because of offenses against property. And these characteristics should be considered when treating juvenile offenders.
The first difference between juvenile and adult offender treatment is that non-radical treatment methods for young criminals are preferred. The second difference is that young people should be visited by parents or relatives more often, because they need someone to look up to. Adolescent offenders are much more sensitive to their environment. On the other hand, it is much harder to change the behavior of grown-up criminals, as they have no respect for authority most of the time and tend to commit serious offenses.Carmichael (2006) states that “the advent of the juvenile court was an attempt to remove children from the adult criminal justice system and provide them with the type of individualized treatment administrated by professionals” (p. 23).
Treatment for both juvenile offenders and adults is similar because they both share criminal behavior that needs to be corrected. Sometimes adolescent offenders grow up to be adult criminals, which should not be allowed to happen. Another similarity is that both adults and young people have the same rights while being treated.
Corriero (2006) claims that “the children convinced of serious crimes in the adult court will return to society as relatively young men and women” (p. 46). In some cases where other methods give no results, punishments intended for adults should be applied to especially dangerous young criminals.
Therefore, juvenile and adult offenders are indeed treated differently, as they should be. Only one approach cannot be applicable to all kinds of situations. It is better to use two different methods to nullify the weakness of the other method (Grimsley, 2008). Young people are too easily influenced by their peers and surroundings. They are much more emotional than adults and sometimes it is hard for them to make rational decisions. The most important aspect of juvenile offender treatment is definitely the reduction of aggressive and offensive behavior. Rehearsal and exercise are very important for the rehabilitation process. Teenagers should be treated individually, as it is much easier to correct their behavior than in adults. In conclusion, it is very hard to find an appropriate punishment for adolescent offenders and they should be treated very carefully unless they are dangerous to society.
Carmichael, J. T. (2006). The political sociology of juvenile punishment: Treating juvenile offenders as adults (Doctoral dissertation) Retrieved from the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (Order No. 3226388)
Corriero, M. (2006). Judging Children As Children : A Proposal for a Juvenile Justice System. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.
Grimsley, M. (2008). The effects of transitional counseling on the recidivism rates of female juvenile offenders (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from the Walden Library databases. (Order No. 3325356)
Kupchik, A. (2006). Judging Juveniles : Prosecuting Adolescents in Adult and Juvenile Courts. New York, NY: New York University Press.
Redondo, S., Martínez-Catena, A., & Andrés-Pueyo, A. (2012). Therapeutic effects of a cognitive-behavioural treatment with juvenile offenders. The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context, 4(2), 159-178.
Springer, D. W., & Roberts, A. R. (2007). Handbook of Forensic Mental Health with Victims and Offenders : Assessment, Treatment, and Research. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.