The Impact of Juvenile Delinquency Programs on Recidivism Rates
According to the National Institute of Justice, delinquency is defined as “conduct by a juvenile characterized by antisocial behavior that is beyond parental control and therefore subject to legal action” (p. 1). Juvenile delinquency is a problem that has been increasing over the past few decades. In 2015, there were about 1.73 million arrests of juveniles in the United States (Sabol, 2018). The arrest rate for males was about three times higher than for females. The majority of juvenile offenders are between the ages of 15 and 17. African American juveniles are also more likely to be arrested than their Caucasian counterparts. There are many factors that can contribute to juvenile delinquency, such as family violence, poverty, poor educational achievement, peer pressure, and substance abuse.
2. Prevalence of delinquency among juveniles:
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) reports that in 2017, there were about 275,000 juvenile offenders in the nation’s prisons and juvenile correctional facilities (Sabol, 2018). This is a decrease from the previous year, but the number of juvenile offenders is still relatively high. In addition, the recidivism rate for juvenile offenders is also quite high. According to the OJJDP, about 60% of juvenile offenders will be rearrested within one year of being released from custody (Sabol, 2018). This shows that the current system for dealing with juvenile offenders is not very effective at rehabilitation or prevention.
3. Unique developmental needs of juvenile delinquents:
Juvenile delinquents have unique developmental needs that need to be addressed in order to prevent them from reoffending. For example, many juvenile offenders have difficulty reading and writing (literacy skills), which can impact their ability to find employment and stay out of trouble with the law. In addition, many juvenile offenders come from dysfunctional families and lack positive role models. As a result, they may have difficulty forming positive relationships and may turn to criminal activity as a way to gain acceptance from peers. Finally, many juvenile offenders have substance abuse problems which can lead to criminal activity in order to get money to buy drugs or alcohol.
4. Programs to address developmental needs:
There are many programs that have been designed to address the developmental needs of juvenile offenders. For example, there are alternative literacy programs that teach basic reading and writing skills to juveniles who have difficulty with traditional schooling. There are also family intervention programs that provide support and guidance to families of juvenile offenders in order to help them deal with their child’s delinquency issues. In addition, there are relapse prevention programs that teach juveniles how to avoid situations that may lead to criminal activity. Finally, there are juvenile correctional facilities that provide a structured environment for young offenders while they are completing their sentences.
5. Impact of programs on recidivism:
The impact of these programs on recidivism rates is mixed. Some studies have shown that alternative literacy programs can reduce recidivism rates by up to 50% (Sabol, 2018). Other studies have shown that family intervention programs can reduce recidivism rates by up to 30% (Sabol, 2018). However, not all studies have found these results and more research is needed in order to determine the effectiveness of these programs on preventing recidivism amongst juvenile offenders.
Juvenile delinquency is a problem that has been increasing over the past few decades. There are many factors that can contribute to juvenile delinquency, such as family violence, poverty, poor educational achievement, peer pressure, and substance abuse. In order to prevent juvenile offenders from reoffending, it is important to address their unique developmental needs through programs that teach basic literacy skills, provide support and guidance to families of juvenile offenders, and teach juveniles how to avoid situations that may lead to criminal activity. While the impact of these programs on recidivism rates is mixed, more research is needed in order to determine their effectiveness.
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