As I entered the juvenile detention facility on 150th, I began to wonder about the female detainee I was going to interview regarding placement. I am sitting in a locked room with a desk, two (2) chairs and a large plexie glass window. As the staff arrived she was accompanied with Farouka (the name has been changed to protect confidentiality).
Farouka is a 14-year-old Caucasian/Hispanic female small in stature, wearing county “blues” (issued clothing). She appeared fearful and teary eyed. She has been detained and adjudicated due to strong-armed robbery. Farouka was involved with two other young people in robbing another 14-year-old in front of a 7-11 convenient store. They beat and kicked the victim and stole approximately $20.
00 in cash. The convenient store clerk had interrupted the crime. As a result of the beating the victim was taken to the hospital. During the interview Farouka was very unclear of her punishment (group home placement for 12 months) and felt it was too harsh. Her reasoning was because it was her first offense. However, Farouka had been expelled from school due to fighting and required to go to continuation school.
There is a history of truancy, out of parental control, drug and alcohol abuse. It is clear that due to her many questions she was unable to deduct the reasons behind her consequence. It is because of the circumstances and situations, similar in nature to that of Faroukas our government has been forced to re-evaluate juvenile crime in America. Although trends in America show that society wants to try juveniles as adults for violent crimes, rehabilitation for the majority of our youths is the best solution. Juveniles Tried as Adults 2 Due to the evolution of increasingly dangerous and serious violent crimes committed by todays youths, law makers have been put in the position according to Schwartz, to “give our communities a false sense of public protection” (CQ Researcher, 1994). This is done through the creation of legislation aimed at punishing juveniles for the crimes they commit.
However, it is clear that trying juveniles as adults does not address the crime rate or why violent crimes are committed, because it is simply a quick-fix policy that only surfaces around election years, implying that “its political” (Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, 1996). Secondly, the majority of crimes committed by juveniles are done so between the hours of 2pm-6pm (Biden, 1998, p. 2). As stated, by Governor Wilson of California, “until we reform the law, until those who are in fact guilty of serious crimesuntil they are treated as seriously as their crimes require, they are literally going to continue to get away with murder. ” This shift of emphasis in the crime policy from treatment and rehabilitation to punishment is perceived to stem from the moral panic to violent delinquency (Howell, 1997, p.
28), this is because crimes that are being committed among the youths are of the same caliber as crimes committed by adults. In contrast, there are three types of juveniles; first, there are small percentages that commit violent crimes (rape, murder, etc. ). Second, there are those who commit less violent crimes (i.
e. petty theft). Third, there is a growing population of minors who are at risk of committing crimes (Biden, 1998, p. 2).
In addition, there are those who believe if you commit the crime you should pay the time. Juveniles should not be tried as adults for violent crimes and given the opportunity to be rehabilitated. Case in point, in the October 1998 issue of Emerge Magazine is a feature article about an 11-year old boy named Nathaniel who is charged with murdering an 18-year old male Juveniles Tried as Adults 3 and shooting at others. He has confessed to firing a stolen gun, but claims he was playing around and not shooting at anyone. Nathaniel has been identified as one emotionally impaired and is functioning three to four years below his age level.
He lives in one of Michigans notorious housing projects, where poverty and crime are bedfellows. Nathaniel had been experiencing problems at school and has been questioned by the police on twenty-two occasions for a variety of reasons. Juveniles can be rehabilitated through measures of behavior modification. Nathaniel fits the classic model needed for a study that tested a theory of social learning to explain juvenile delinquency. This theory is based upon altering the social environment of the delinquent, in order to reduce juvenile crime.
The study found “that interventions aimed at younger, first time offenders may have been more effective” (Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 1991). Moreover, trying juvenile as an adult could result in grave physical harm of the minor. Since the passing of the S-10 Bill, the Violent and Repeat Juvenile Offender Act of 1997, institutions are no longer mandated to house juveniles in separate quarters from adults, keeping them out of harms way. Instead, now they can be housed alongside adult felons who may have nothing to lose. creating an increase in rape, sodomy, and suicide.
Furthermore, there is evidence that juveniles who are convicted under the adult system have a high rate of recidivism. Biden states, “juveniles tried as adults are more likely to be put on probation, to spend less time in prison, and to commit more crimes in the future that juveniles tried and sentenced in the juvenile system” (1998, p. 2. ). Finally, I contend that rehabilitation is better because they are on children.
Children develop behaviors that they see adults exhibit. They are not as mature as adults. They do not have the same cognitive development as adults. If juveniles were capable of making adult Juveniles Tried as Adults 4 decisions then states would not have to put age related sanctions on voting, driving, or the purchase of liquor or tobacco products (Valentine, 1998, p. 49). There are countless studies done on child development and socialization of youths, however, Skinner has been the major influence in contemporary psychology (Hollin, 1990, p.
7). Skinner contends that children learn through Operant Learning. It is his theory that the “individuals behavior is related to the environmental consequences it produces. ” That behavior is either reinforced or punished.
For example, in the case of Farouka, if she had been brought before the court during the time period of truancy (early stages of delinquent behavior), an environmental history could have been done. It would have revealed that her father died of a drug overdose, her mother is a current drug and alcohol user, and that she lives in a neighborhood similar to Nathaniels (where crime and poverty are bedfellows). The environment in which she lives in reinforces her negative behaviors, whereas she gains status and recognition for delinquent behavior. Provided this information was known before the infamous strong-armed robbery, it could have been prevented through early intervention.
Farouka could learned new behaviors and gained tools, which should could live a more positive and productive life. Juveniles Tried as Adults 5 References Biden, J. (1998, Winter). Attacking Youth Violence. Criminal Justice Ethics, v17 il p. 2(1).
Glazer, S. (1994, February). Juvenile Justice. CQ Researcher, v4 p. 171-183. Hollin, C.
(1990). Cognitive-Behavioral Interventions with Young Offenders, Psychology Practitioner Guidebooks. p. 7. Howell, J. (1997) Improving the balance between child development and juvenile punishment in a comprehensive strategy: a comment on Vila.
Politics and the Life Sciences. V16 nl p. 2894). Lew, B. , Hicks-Marlowe, J. , Reid, J.
, Patterson, C. , & Weinrott, M. (1991). A comparative evaluation of parent training interventions for families of chronic delinquents. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, v19, p15 (19). Mowatt, R.
(1996, January 11). Harsher penalties urged for juveniles in California. Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, p. 111K6230.
Valentine, V. (1998, October). Youth Crime, Adult Time. Emerge Magazine, 48-52.