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“According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the number of delinquency cases involving detention increased 29 percent between 1985 and 2009 from 246,300 to 318,000.” The dynamic role the Juvenile Justice System has structured has not only been beneficial for the individual, but the community as well. The next section with detail will be on: the history and evolution of the prisons, the controversies of the facilities, and the benefits that confinement bring to inmate and society.
Juvenile prisons secure confinement for juvenile delinquents. These facilities provide structure and promote character. Implementing exceptional programs such as continuing education, rehabilitation, substance abuse programs, as well as counseling have all helped the inmates in promoting resources for their release.
Established in England, Bridewell was the first correctional facility that obtained both adult and juvenile inmates. This facility became commonly known as a workhouse, which taught habits of industry as well as learning a work trade. Examples of the work trades were baking, weaving, cloth making and the milling of grain. . With Parliament’s orders for expansion across the country, a large portion of prisoners flowed through the doors of these work houses. In result, the facilities goal and vision started to degenerate. It wasn’t until high sheriff of Bedfordshire, John Howard, sponsored the views in his book, The State of Prisons in England and Wales, describing “correctional facilities should be a tool used to reform and not to punish an individual.”. He wanted to establish “clean and well-run institutions, prisons in which the sexes were separated, and jails in which inmates were kept busy at productive work.”. Colonist then took Howard’s views and established them in America, forming a platform which we are acquainted with today.
The structure of the juvenile prisons has changed over time. Laws and acts have been implemented to change the juvenile system. For instance, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 was established with the goal of preventing and controlling juvenile delinquency by aiding assistance to the state and local governments.. The two main implementations of this act were “the deinstitutionalization of status offenders” as well as “sight and sound separation.”. The JJDPA has then established a third implementation. Which was in response to listening to juvenile’s concerns and testimonials, they have come to a conclusion that juveniles should not be held in adult facilities due to increase risk of suicide, physical, mental, and sexual abuse, inadequate care and programming, exposure to mental patients, serious offenders and negative labeling.. Although the JJDPA is a great act implemented by the Juvenile Justice System, other factors have caused controversies within the facilities.
Juveniles being tried as adults has always been a current topic to discuss. Criticism has been made toward the matter. Many will say that a juvenile does not think like an adult, so they cannot be tried as one. Others state that “serious and/or violent juvenile offenders are beyond the scope of what the juvenile justice system can successfully address.”. Regardless of the controversy Congress has established these laws and the age to be tried as an adult varies in different states. Potential Future For Juvenile Prisons Usually when it comes to the operational system of juvenile offenders. The detention centers are directed towards the male inmates. The female inmates have different difficulties than the male inmates. These difficulties need to be taking into consideration from the state and federal point. For instance, “female offenders are usually non-violent offenders, but have a high-need, meaning the girl poses little risk to the public, but enters the system with significant and pressing personal needs.”. Trying to promote a better environment and having assistance and programs readily available to access to these girls would promote a better future for all juvenile offenders.
My Interview with Nichole ChachereI had the pleasure of speaking with Mrs. Nichole Chachere, six-year corrections officer that had worked for the Clemens unit in Brazoria and the Barrington unit in Rosharon. While speaking with Mrs. Chachere, the question brought to her attention was “what surprised you the most in working with juveniles?” To which she responded, “my biggest surprise must have been realizing that these inmates would like to be acknowledge and heard, they are children after all”. She describes her time working in corrections as “life changing“ as well as having a different perspective on society. When asked “what her most difficult adaptation in working with juveniles was?” she replied, “In the community you are willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. In these facilities you must understand these inmates study you all day, they seek a reaction out of you.”. It’s obvious that the work load of a corrections officer can be very overwhelming and life changing. Due to much interference with her personal life, Chachere has changed her career direction and now works for a medical facility.
Participation of education and counseling should be considered as a mandatory asset to every offender. Due to lack of structure these offenders have trouble applying the skills learned during their time in a juvenile prison. Implementing the assistances and knowledge upon release is a major factor that most inmates have trouble with. Guidance and support from their friends and family members can also play a vital role. With programs in the facilities promoting education continuation, rehabilitation, and counseling many of these inmates have something to look forward to upon release.
Overall, juvenile prisons have progressed overtime. Rehabilitation and structure are vital assets when considering inmate release. Helping structure these individuals with a mentality and mindset that is acceptable to bring back to the community is the ultimate priority. The juvenile facilities can assist in creating a well-rounded individual ready to interact back with society.
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