Friday, December 18, 2015

Report Reflects New and Old Ways of Thinking About Juvenile Justice

A new report from the Council of State Governments indicates that while juvenile incarceration rates have declined over the past 15 to 20 years, recidivism rates of juvenile offenders have not.

According to statistics released by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, juvenile incarceration rates across the states have declined by 55 percent between 1997 and 2013. However, juvenile offenders have been re-arrested at rates as high as 80 percent within the last three years of release.

The Council of State Governments’ report indicates that three key factors to preventing recidivism are access to education, employment, and mental health or substance abuse treatment. However, what works for or may be appropriate for a 16-year-old is different for that of a 20-year-old. States must provide a range of resources that are customizable to youth based on their age and background.

Data released from Texas at a recent forum on juvenile justice suggests that juvenile offenders who are placed in probationary programs and treatment tend to have lower recidivism rates than youth in state prison facilities. In those programs youth typically receive individualized plans for improvement and access to resources.

Researchers have known for a long time that juveniles are psychologically and socially less developed than adults. In order to help youth succeed after entering and leaving the criminal justice system, courts and community organizations need to do help youth access educational and employment opportunities, as well as appropriate substance abuse or mental health services.

Katie Walsh is an attorney in Orange County, California whose practice emphasizes juvenile law and victim’s rights.

Contact the Law Office of Katie Walsh at 714-619-9355.

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