The Effects Of Legislation On Juvenile Crime

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“There were three men who hurt me on the first night. They touched me and made me do things…. They came back the next night and hurt me a lot…. There were so many last night. I don’t know how many there were, but they hurt me . . . .” Charlie, a 14 year old boy, confessed reluctantly to Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer and social activist. Charlie was considered a “good kid”, until he shot his mother’s abusive boyfriend, George, a local police officer. After that, he was placed in adult jail ("How America’s Justice System Failed Our Children"). Although Charlie was convicted of second-degree murder, the mental and physical trauma he faced in jail effectively destroyed his life as well. This tragedy continues to be the harsh reality of juveniles sent…show more content…
“Imprisoning kids to ‘teach them a lesson’ is an almost surefire way of teaching them how to be more criminal” (Rozzell). In an effort to reduce juvenile crime, some states passed harsher legislation on juvenile crime, but in many cases, states did not get what they wished for. Criminologists analyzed the effects of New York’s Juvenile Offender Law, which lowered the age a minor could be tried as an adult in certain circumstances. Compared to a control group in Philadelphia, there was no effect on the levels of serious juvenile crime. When Idaho passed legislation in 1981 that minors be tried as adults for serious crimes, researchers found that juvenile offenses actually went up. Meanwhile neighboring states, Montana and Wyoming, whom had Idaho’s original legislation, saw their juvenile offense rates go down. A Columbia University researcher compared 15 and 16 year olds who were tried as adults versus those in the juvenile system. He found that 76 percent of those who were prosecuted in criminal court reoffended, offended again after their release, while only 67 percent of those in juvenile centers reoffended (“Juvenile Justice”). These laws, and many others, backfired against the legislature illustrating that juvenile offenders become life-long…show more content…
In early 2007, New York City launched its Juvenile Justice Initiative (JJI). It allows medium risk offenders to return home under close probationary supervision and counseling. A year after JJI was launched, less than 35 percent of youth were arrested again or were found in violation of their probation. As of 2011, JJI has prevented more than 70 percent of arrested minors from entering detention centers by keeping kids home and attending treatment programs (“Juvenile Offenders”). Beginning in 2011, Eastern Michigan University 's Adolescent Diversion Program (ADP) collaborated with the Washtenaw Juvenile Court and the university’s School of Social Work to take a more personal approach. The ADP recruited undergraduate social work interns to mentor troubled youth. Not only did these interns provide educational, health, and social services, for some it provided an adult who finally believed in them. “The program means that needs get met and new possibilities are created”. Ninety-three percent of first time offenders in the program avoided further police contact (Kellman). On a more national level, in May, the Supreme Court ruled that juvenile offenders who haven’t been convicted of murder can’t be sentenced to life without a chance of parole. The United States was the only country that did not have this law (Khan). While America is improving the way juveniles are treated, there is still a long way to
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