July 5, 2018
The New York Times,
Mr. Mark Anthony
New York, NY.
Juvenile transfer to adult prisons has become a contentious issue in the criminal justice system as different groups advance opposing viewpoints. While one faction hold the opinion that transferring juveniles to adult prisons will reduce recidivism, another group feels that this will in fact achieve the opposite.
Contrary to the views that giving juveniles harsher punishment will discourage them from committing crimes in future, this is in fact more likely to increase the risk of recidivism. The harsh adult prison environment is likely to turn juveniles into hardcore criminals rather than rehabilitate them.
A recent study by Shook (2014) explored whether juveniles incarcerated in adult prisons fair better compared to those in juvenile prisons. The findings indicated that adult prisons lack age-appropriate programs for youths, leading to poor education outcomes and increased risks for substance abuse. This significantly increases the risk of recidivism for youths who do not go through age-appropriate programs.
Youths incarcerated in adult prisons are likely to have lower earnings compared to those who go through juvenile courts. A study by Taylor (2015), indicated that youths transferred into the adult system earned less by about 18 percent compared to those who had passed through juvenile centers. This could be attributed to fear by employers to accept youths transferred to adult courts, the overall impact being an increase in recidivism rates.
There have been concerns that transferring youths to adult courts increases their chances of joining gangs and engaging in substance abuse. According to Shook (2014), youths who spend their time in adult prisons are more likely to become part of gangs and to learn new crimes from such gangs. This increases the chances of recidivism once such youths leave prison.
Those supporting the move to have juveniles transferred in adult courts contend that this is a way of treating habitual juvenile offenders and those committing serious crimes in a punitive manner. However, it is important to note that issuing severe punishments to juvenile offenders will not help in achieving the goal of the criminal justice system, which is to rehabilitate offenders.
The solution to this problem is to embrace rehabilitation. There is need to introduce effective juvenile rehabilitation programs that can help in achieving behavior change among the juveniles. This will be critical in reforming juveniles to become productive members of the community.
To conclude, there is need to take active measures to improve juvenile rehabilitation efforts in the region. Juvenile rehabilitation programs must focus on behavioral changes as well as providing educational opportunities to the youths.
Shook, Jeffrey J. “Looking Back and Thinking Forward: Examining the Consequences of Policies and Practices that Treat Juveniles as Adults.” Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, vol. 11, no. 4, 2014, pp. 392-403.
Taylor, Melanie. “Juvenile Transfers to Adult Court: An Examination of the Long-Term Outcomes of Transferred and Non-Transferred Juveniles: Juvenile Transfers to Adult Court.” Juvenile and Family Court Journal, vol. 66, no. 4, 2015, pp. 29-47.