Violence in Juvenile Disciplinary Facilities<br />Violence Out of Control and Calling for Change<br />
Summary<br /> The violence in juvenile facilities is out of control. Violence occurs between the juveniles themselves, juveniles and staff, and juveniles and teachers. Recently, the juvenile justice system and the disruption and dysfunction within, has been under scrutiny by the federal government and the states themselves with some reforms being performed. However, because of this violence, juveniles are more likely to be highly skilled criminals upon release instead of rehabilitated productive youths who can be effective members of different communities. <br /> <br />
Issue With Violence<br /> In today’s juvenile justice facilities, the rate of violence is out of control and outstanding. Juveniles are :<br /><ul><li>Sexually abused by other juveniles and staff
Assaulting educational staff</li></ul>There is not one person except perhaps the warden themselves, who is innocent of not committing any type of violence within a disciplinary facility. According to the Justice Department (2010), 12 percent of incarcerated juveniles, or more than 3,200 young people, had been raped or sexually abused in the past year by fellow inmates or prison staff. <br />
Juvenile Placement<br /> Juveniles are placed in these facilities for various disciplinary and criminal reasons. Some of these reasons are:<br /><ul><li>Selling and abusing of drugs on the streets and in school.
Assault of others in the community and in schools.
Gang activity and criminal activity associated with gangs like; violence, drugs, murder, etc.
Arson, setting buildings & houses on fire for “fun” or because of peer pressure.
Robbery or theft like; breaking into people’s houses and stealing, assault and theft, & shoplifting.</li></ul> These juveniles are arrested, processed, and tried by a judge and then sentenced to various periods of time in these facilities that are supposed to be rehabilitative and supportive.<br />
Gang Activity Continues<br /> When juveniles enter these facilities, instead of rehabilitation, the violence continues or gets worse. the gang relations and activities continue as well as the gang related violence. . A survey was done in 1990 called the Juvenile Correctional Institutions Survey. This survey found that 160 respondents, more than three-fourths (78 percent) of responding institutions, reported a gang problem for some period of time (OJJDP, 2006). The survey had questions on it about the crimes and violence in these institutions that are committed by the gangs within the institutions. Assaults on correctional officers were reported by 14 percent of respondents; among these, 28 percent reported more than one incident, and of the 150 reported assaults on correctional officers, 11 resulted in hospitalization (OJJDP, 2006). Approximately one-third of all responding institutions reported one or more incidents in which violence involving gang members resulted in serious injury (OJJDP, 2006). Drug use and assaults continue within the walls of the correctional facilities.<br />
Common Misconceptions<br /> The common thought is that once the juveniles are placed in these facilities, the violence is greatly reduced because the juveniles are confined and closely monitored by corrections officers and support workers by close contact and restricted movement. These events do occur but, what goes on that is unreported, is the actual violence that occurs that is unreported like; violence on juveniles by staff and the actual statistics of violent assaults on juveniles by each other and by the juveniles on staff. This is what can be a significant cause of the delay in action being taken by the federal government to make changes in the juvenile justice system. <br />
Publicity Mishaps of Violence<br /> Much more is publicized by newspapers and television, along with websites like government or state justice sites, about the abuse inflicted by the juveniles though and very little about the abuse inflicted by the corrections officers who are responsible for the kids’ well being and safety against harm and abuse. When instances of abuse are allowed to occur by staff on juveniles and by juveniles on other juveniles, nothing is being learned while completing a term at one of these facilities. Perhaps this is because the state or government does not want to be viewed as neglectful or in support of child abuse because they hire corrections officers such as the ones who commit this violence.<br />
Need for Reform of Facilities<br /> After reviewing several articles such as; The Lansing Star Online, OJJDP online, and the US News and World Report, all of which are reliable and factual resources, on different violence issues that are occurring in juvenile facilities nationwide, there is really more of an issue with how the juvenile justice system should be restructured and how some of the directors should be fired or forced to resign because in all actuality, the directors and their lack of an effective structure with strong policies and release programs is one of the leading causes of the violence that is occurring within the facilities.<br />
Need for Stronger Policies<br /> Stronger policies need to be implemented that clearly define the guidelines that staff must follow in dealing with the youth in crisis and normal situations. The policies should also clearly define the rules and regulations for the youth with clear cut consequences and procedures that must be followed by staff in dealing with the juveniles. Release policies need to be more clearly defined as well where the conditions of release are stated and the guidelines to follow for release are clearly stated as well. There is no clear outline or understanding of who is in charge, what is acceptable, consequences for unacceptable behavior on the part of staff and the juveniles within the facilities and conditions of early release or release in general. Because of this dangerous lack of structure, the community is at risk. <br />
True Argument<br /> The argument is really between the communities and the justice system with what needs to be done to make the juvenile facilities more effective to where the juveniles become productive and less likely to recommit or be a threat to society instead of the facilities being a place where they learn how to be better and more skilled criminals. The juveniles learn how to sell drugs and not get caught and how to be better fighters. Some juveniles join gangs while they are incarcerated and continue affiliation when released so they become bigger and more violent criminals. The argument is also, are the corrections officers reacting to the violence within the limits of what is allowable or are they going beyond what is acceptable? <br /> Evidence of juveniles becoming more skilled criminals can be seen in an article by Holman and Ziedenberg where it clearly states that because of overcrowding and so many youth being together in the same units for various crimes, they teach each other and therefore learn how to be better criminals. The article does not give a solution to this problem or suggestion on type of reform to solve the issue.<br />
Reform Begins<br /> Restructuring of the juvenile justice system is a work in progress. The system is working to become more positive and more of a rehabilitative setting and program, than just a place where juveniles are punished and put away for crimes. The system is moving to treat the juveniles and provide job training and counseling resources instead of putting them into a jail type setting or just putting them into juvenile jails.<br /> Reform is also taking place within the juvenile justice facilities with many resignation s being handed in and people being fired. In New York, State Senator Mike Nozzolio is renewing his call for the immediate resignation of Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) Commissioner Gladys Carrion due to videos of the outstanding violence that is taking place in juvenile facilities within the state (Miller, 2011). <br />
The Better Question and Opinion<br /> An effective research question would be, “Is it more beneficial for the juveniles to go to a lockdown juvenile facility where they are more likely to become more skilled, or go to a rehabilitation facility?”<br /> In my opinion, the facilities need to be completely restructured with the federal government playing a larger part in creating policies and release guidelines. The federal government and individual states should also look at the policies to determine whether a juvenile should be tried as an adult or a juvenile. I believe that in some instances, the juvenile commits an adult crime that requires adult thinking so therefore, they should be tried as an adult instead of a juvenile. This would reduce the chance of these types of criminals influencing the other juveniles within the facilities.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
References<br />Bayer, P., Hjalmarsson, R., & Pozen, D. (2009). BUILDING CRIMINAL CAPITAL BEHIND BARS: PEER EFFECTS IN JUVENILE CORRECTIONS. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 124(1), 105-147. <br />Cannon, A., & Beiser, V. (2004,). Juvenile injustice; overcrowding, violence, and abuse--state juvenile justice systems are in a shockingly chaotic state. now, finally, the feds are stepping in.; Chino, CA.U.S.News & World Report, 137(4), 28-28-32. <br />Davidson-Arad, B., Benbenishty, R., & Golan, M. (2009). Comparison of violence and abuse in juvenile correctional facilities and schools. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24(2), 259-259-279. doi:10.1177/0886260508317183<br /><ul><li>Davidson-Arad, B., & Golan, M. (2007). Victimization of juveniles in out-of-home placement: Juvenile correctional facilities. British Journal of Social Work, 37(6), 1007-1007-1025. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcl056</li></li></ul><li>References Cont’d<br />Holman, B & Ziedenberg, J. (2006). The Dangers of Detention: The Impact of Incarcerating Youth in Detention and Other Secure Facilities. Justice Policy Institute. Retrieved from http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/06-11_REP_DangersOfDetention_JJ.pdf<br />Howell, J.C. & Lipsey, M.W. (2004). A practical approach to evaluating and improving <br />Juvenile Justice programs. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 55 (1), 35-48. Retrieved from http://www.azcourts.gov/Portals/29/JJSD%20Publication%20Reports/SPEP/SPEP_APracticalApproachtoEvaluatingImprovingJuvenileJusticePrograms_2004.pdf<br />Miller, K. (2011,). Violence in Juvenile Centers Prompts Calls for Resignation. The Lansing Star Online. Retrieved from http://www.LansingStar.com<br />
References Cont’d<br />OJJDP. (2008). Youth gangs: An overview: Scope of the problem. Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Retrieved from http://www.ojjdp.gov/jjbulletin/9808/scope.html<br />Stone, S. S., & Wycoff, J. (1996). The extent and dynamics of gang activity in juvenile correctional facilities. Journal of Gang Research, 4(1), 1-1-8. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/619436296?accountid=34899<br />Wilson, J. (2007). Stanford University: Reducing Juvenile Recidivism in the United States. Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/19695235/Juvenile-Recidivism<br />Gross, J. (2006). The power of peer review. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Web site: http://www.mwp.hawaii.edu/resources/workshop_peerreview2006spring.pdf<br />