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Juvenile Justice and Corrections

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Juvenile Justice and Correction

Justice has always been the goal of our court system, but it is not always served, especially in cases involving juveniles. The judiciary process has evolved from a system that did not initially consider juveniles, to one where juveniles have their own court proceedings, facilities, and even rules or laws. The juvenile justice system has come a long way, and people have worked very hard in its creation. A juvenile is considered to be an individual, under the age of 18, resembling an adult. However, resembling an adult does not always mean that juveniles will have an adult mindset. Thus, juveniles may need extra attention to help get their lives on track. This paper will analyze various ways involving juveniles and correction facilities and programs.

One of the major differences between juvenile and adult corrections is the large number of private facilities in the juvenile system. Private facilities have the luxury of being able to "cherry-pick" their clients, and they can also sometimes do things and perform treatments that public facilities cannot do. One of the big problems in public juvenile justice is how long it takes to get an arrested juvenile tried and adjudicated as a delinquent. Only after they have been so adjudicated can they technically be placed in a "rehabilitation" program, and obviously, this kind of delay exacerbates the problem of delivering psychological services in a timely fashion. Juveniles who are still in detention status can only receive substance abuse treatment, sex education, remedial education, and crisis intervention services.

There are short-term facilities (detention centers), as well as shelters and reception and diagnostic centers. Long-term facilities include training schools, ranches, forestry camps, boot camps, farms, halfway houses, and group homes. In addition, there are numerous private institutions and a number of psychiatric hospitals and treatment centers. The correctional landscape of juvenile justice is quite different from the correctional system in the adult world. While most facilities are small, the United States does have about 70 large facilities for juveniles. The average length of time served in all types of facilities is six to seven months (Champion 2003).

It is common for juveniles in need of rehabilitation to have multiple problems. Sometimes, the multiplicity of co-occurring problems is so great that the (over)use of competency and insanity determinations is tempting. Estimates of mental health problems among juvenile inmates run as high as 90% (Ulzen & Hamilton 1998), but the prevalence of serious mental illness is only about 30%, ten percent higher than the frequency of serious mental illness in the juvenile population as a whole.

As Bartol & Bartol (2004) suggest, there are approximately seven (7) different models of treatment for juvenile offenders. Not all of them are as successful as can be expected, but treatment programs for juveniles tend to take on a life of their own. The list below is presented in no particular order, and only represents programs which have found some acceptance, usage, or recognition in forensic psychology:

* group home models - group homes are the most common type of semi-secure or insecure facility, and their existence is justified on the principle that the least restrictive alternative should be used, unless facts warrant otherwise. Models include the Achievement Place approach (Phillips 1968) and African Unity-based approaches.

* multisystemic models - "multisystemic" is loosely a term for approaches based on Bronfenbrenner's (1979) family systems theory, which in short, implies that the best approach is one which ignores the offender, and joins him or her in blaming their family, their peer group, their school, and their neighborhood.

* substance abuse models - these are generally relapse prevention programs that are delivered on an inpatient (avg. stay 6 months) or outpatient (twice weekly) basis where "community" meetings are held and clients set goals for themselves.

* boot camp models - these are faddish government programs, most popular from 1987-1997 which attempt to instill military-style discipline, respect for authority, and boost self-esteem. There have been highly publicized abuses (e.g. in Maryland) and most research indicates a negative impact on recidivism and self-efficacy.

* wilderness and adventure models - these are (usually private) programs which take status offenders and nondelinquents, "cherry-picked" delinquents and a few delinquents given a "last chance" before going to a more secure facility. Besides the outdoor challenges



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