When young offenders get jail sentences, the hope is that they will either be reformed during their time behind bars or that they’ll at least avoid committing offenses that will lead to arrest in the future because they don’t want to go back. Whether as a deterrent or a reform device, these sentences are supposed to reduce crime rates.
But do they work? What you’ll find is that sending young people to jail often has the exact opposite effect on their lives.
Juvenile courts need to have their own goals
The key is to keep juvenile offenders in their own systems, which have different goals than adult criminal systems. After all, studies have found that “trying juveniles in criminal court may actually result in higher rates of reoffending.”
Why is this true? There are a few different reasons to consider. For one thing, young offenders may be exposed to conditions in prison that will make future crimes more likely. They could become involved with other offenders and make connections that could lead to more criminal activity after their release.
A bigger issue, though, is just that incarceration derails their lives. A young person may end up missing significant time at school. That can mean they never even finish high school and do not have a chance to start a career. They may feel that criminal activity is the only option they have left to make money. Taking away their education and development at such a critical time is detrimental to their future and can keep them locked in a cycle of criminal activity and arrests for the rest of their lives.
Exploring all options for juvenile defense
If you’re a parent whose child has been arrested, you must focus on their future and explore all of your legal options for their defense. Learn more about the possibilities today by speaking with an experienced advocate.