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Outgrowing Juvenile Justice: Jamal Vick Case Study Raises

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In Outgrowing Juvenile Justice, Michael Jonas (2001) raises several important issues concerning juvenile justice policies and practices. In discussing Jamal Vick, a range of youth crime issues surfaces, including:

• Balancing treatment verses punishment

• Responses to serious juvenile offenders

o Waiver into the adult criminal justice system

o Utilize the juvenile justice system

o Blend elements of both the adult system and the juvenile system

• Youth in confinement

o Growing numbers of youth confined

o Disproportionate number of minority youth confined

• Offense focused juvenile court verses offender focused juvenile court

• Status offenses verses delinquent offenses

At 16 years old, Jamal Vick was facing a 10-to-15 year sentence in an adult facility for Assault with Intent to Murder. Under the Youthful Offender Law passed in 1996, offenders as young as 14 years old could receive adult sentences for a wide range of crimes. Instead of a harsh adult sentence, Vick received a “blended” juvenile/adult sentence. In the traditional juvenile justice system, once the offender becomes an adult, his/her record is considered clean. Vick’s sentence, a combination of detention in a juvenile facility for five years (until he turns 21 years old), followed by four years of adult probation means that he will be under supervision until his mid-twenties. This practice is an attempt to operate in the middle ground between a “tough on crime” stance and the “reshape young lives” advocates. This is a core conflict facing the juvenile justice system. Striking the balance of satisfying the public’s desire for tough on crime, while still allowing for rehabilitation and support systems is an ongoing issue facing juvenile justice policies and practices. In recognition of the difficulties juveniles experience transitioning back into society, the Department of Youth Services (DYS) incorporates an approach that includes day reporting centers at which youths can get help with everything from anger management to job to school placement. However, the battle between juvenile treatment and services verses adult-type punishment wars on as Massachusetts considers



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