Juvenile Justice System and Preventing Recidivism Research Paper

Research Question
Briefly discuss and analyze the role of the police, the courts and the Department of Corrections in the juvenile justice system.
Identify and analyze the method you feel best addresses juvenile delinquency regarding reducing future recidivism.

The role of the juvenile justice system is different than that of a traditional criminal justice system, in the sense that the aim is centered more around reform and reintegration rather than punishment and degradation. Nevertheless, the actors in this process, such as the police, the courts, and the Department of Corrections, all play a part in reducing future recidivism. This essay will briefly analyze the role of these actors’ and how their methods may differ. The aim is to identify and analyze a trend, which would indicate a preferred method that addresses juvenile delinquency concerning reducing future recidivism.

Police officers are in charge of cleaning up the streets, ridding them of crime. Often, they are the ones who are responsible for detecting deviant behavior. Citizens, who take the initiative to call the police to act, assist much of this detection. The control for selection of what classifies as juvenile delinquency, therefore, shifts slightly towards the public. The job of the police officer is to remain objective when such reporting of an incident occurs. Nevertheless, statistics show that police tend to keep down the official juvenile delinquency rate, reporting very few of adolescent encounters (Black, & Reiss, 1970). The role of the police officer is significant, as they are the ones who decide as to who should be subjected to the juvenile justice system, a system criticized by many.

In the United States, the 1960s were accompanied by much controversy concerning abusive practices in the juvenile justice system. Abuses included arbitrary and inconsistent decisions that would have otherwise never occurred in an adult court-case. It led to substantial changes in the 1980s and 90s, which fundamentally contradicted the foundation of the juvenile justice system. The move from a less formal arrangement to the mandate that juvenile offenders should have a new set of legal rights, similar to those of adults was an influencing factor for change in public opinion that supported a “get tough” attitude. It led to changes in sentencing and transfer laws, which enabled sentences to start in the juvenile system and continue in the adult system. Such practices, which support the criminalization of delinquency, arguably contradicts the essence of the purpose of the minor system- treatment that prevents and reduces juvenile crime. (Mears, Hay, Marc, & Mancini, 2007).

Once an offender is sanctioned, he or she becomes the subject of the state agency that manages juvenile facilities, otherwise known as the Department of Corrections. A Corrections Officer (CO) is mostly the most critical administrator of juvenile delinquents who is required to complete a successful reintegration ceremony. John Braithwaite & Stephen Mugford (1994) conclude that the difference between a degradation ceremony and a reintegration ceremony is the ratio of stigmatic to reintegrative applications. The reintegration process requires an actor to be conscious of the ways he or she integrates shaming and reintegration through communication. A juvenile offender is different from an adult offender in this sense, where the former may require more indication that doing something wrong does not mean they are a terrible person. Considering the importance of the stigmatizing nature associated with a juvenile offender is especially prevalent given the disproportion of stigmatizing to reintegrative meanings communicated through advocates, policymakers, and public opinion (Braithwaite, & Mugford, 1994).

Many believe that moving away from providing treatment in the best interest of young offenders is no longer an option and that revitalizing the individual treatment system is a lost cause. It is mainly due to the public’s concerns with the other aspects of the juvenile justice system, such as the lack of a clear sanctioning framework for juvenile offenders (Bazemore, & Umbreit, 1995). After an analysis of the stakeholders, which includes the police (the identifier), the court (the sanction giver) and corrections department (the reintegration administrator), one can notice a trend of the involvement of the public. Based on the findings, it is essential to consider the ways effects that stigmatic meanings associated with public opinion are transferred to a juvenile offender if the goal is successful reintegration. It indicates that among their original roles and responsibilities within the juvenile system, it is also vital that they act as mediators of communication between the offender and the public.

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