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Juveniles in the Justice System
By Terry Campbell, Professor, Purdue University Global
Published: 09/21/2015

Teenagers We have another great topic this month; ‘Juveniles.’ This is an area under continuous review and revision. Currently focus is placed on the review of juvenile incarceration. There has been a flurry of information and research provided over the previous months. Some of the key areas are identified below and are certainly not conclusive. I thought this would be a good time to share some relevant web sites and other information you may not be familiar with, regarding juvenile offenders:
  • Re-Examining Juvenile Incarceration (April 2015): www.pewtrusts.org/publicsafety
  • OJJDP News at a Glance (July/August249004): http://www.ojjdp.gov/publications/PubResults.asp
  • Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) - Center for Children’s Law and Policy: http://www.cclp.org/prea.php
  • Juvenile Justice: https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Topics/Topic.aspx?TopicID=122
  • Toward Equity: http://www.equityproject.org/training/toward-equity-full-curriculum-download/
  • Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention/Curriculum Guide Support LGBT Youth in the Juvenile System May 6, 2015: http://www.ojjdp.gov/enews/15juvjust/150506b.html
  • American Psychological Association: Bullying http://www.apa.org/topics/bullying/
I recommend you bookmark these sites and take time to navigate through the various sites. You should become familiar with the different areas and tools available to you. If you have a general interest in the topic or are trying to stay current in the area, this is a must to enhance your juvenile knowledge base.

We continue to spend an enormous amount of resources and still experience problems and concerns with recidivism. Research reflects there are success stories, yet the statistics still reflect issues. There will always be new programs implemented, monitored, revised, data review, intervention initiatives, and other. The research also reflects some key areas to improve; ‘risk levels of juveniles, program characteristics and the quality of their implementation.’ These, as well as other areas, will help in improving recidivism. At the same time, many states have enacted legislation to reduce use of residential facilities and look at alternative sanctions. The "Re-Examining Juvenile Incarceration” article compiled various research data and provided a thorough overview of what is occurring throughout various juvenile justice systems. The data is interesting and I will only highlight a few areas.

There needs to be a better review in determining high risk offenders, types of programming they will need, length of stay in facilities (if any), and increased use of alternatives. The State of Ohio provided data looking at positive results of supervising youth in the community. This program is titled ‘Reasoned and Equitable Community and Local Alternatives to the Incarceration of Minors (RECLAIM Ohio) program. The results reflect ‘outcomes were better for all but the very high-risk juveniles.’ Along with this, the article provides an overview of what other states have implemented.

I was aware of the substantial amount of resources being spent toward juvenile offenders. However, after looking at some of the state costs across the country, this became a real eye opener. I suggest you take time to review this article and then note any similarities and/or differences in your respective systems. One example is the daily costs in South Carolina:
  • Secure placement: $426.00
  • Intensive multiagency group care: $180.00
  • Wilderness camp: $111.00
  • Therapeutic foster care: $105.00
  • Intermediate multiagency group care: $83.00
  • Intensive probation: $13.00
Note: Costs will vary across states and the numbers above are from Figure 3, The PEW Charitable Trusts Article.

The Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention is another of my favorite sites. There is a “News at a Glance” component that highlights specific areas every two months and/or more often. Many areas of interest and concerns are addressed in this article.

There are a couple of areas I also want to highlight from this article: Educational Challenges (Some areas to consider are learning disability diagnosis, repeat a grade, and suspension or expelled from school). Across the country positive results are limited in regard to improving reading and comprehension skills.

The next area I want to focus on looks at the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). This is a civil statute established in 2003 and established the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. “The law provided for data collection, technical assistance, early funding to assist states, and periodic reviews of facilities with high and low rates of victimization.” This act also requires the Department of Justice to ‘issue standards outlining the steps that facilities must take to address sexual misconduct prevention, detection, and response.’ I should note that four types of facilities were identified where this is applicable: ‘juvenile facilities, adult prisons and jails, lockups, and community confinement in facilities.’ http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-06-20/pdf/2012-12427.pdf Note: there are some differences how PREA applies to adult facilities. The site has a link to click on and provides a thorough overview of these differences.

There are specific areas within this PREA article that can easily be downloaded and reviewed for additional information. This article information was given to provide an overview of the PREA and for all to know the importance of this act as it relates to juvenile and adult offenders, staff, and administrators. There are many compliance and legal issues related to PREA. This act created standards for the ‘prevention, detection, response, and monitoring of sexual abuse in juvenile facilities.’

Major PREA provisions include the following:

“Adherence to a zero-tolerance standard for the incidence of inmate sexual assault and rape; Development of standards for detection, prevention, reduction, and punishment of prison rape; Collection and dissemination of information on the incidence of prison rape; and Award of grant funds to help state and local governments implement the purposes of the Act.”

The last area I will discuss looks at Lesbian, Gary, Bisexual, and Transgender (LBGT) youth. The intent is for all staff to be familiar with LGBT youth and understand the role they play in being supportive of these youth, and ensure the custody, fairness issues, and safety concerns are addressed. I provided information earlier for you to read the article “Toward Equity” and provided the site as well as sites for OJJDP. This is well worth your time to look at this program and see how this applies. You can also research your respective state and see what is in place to assist staff in working with LGBT youth. There are a lot of research and initiatives out there to consider.

As you can see from the brief information I provided due to article length requirements, the door is often for you to pursue and review all information related to juveniles. I hope you found this information useful.

Terry Campbell is a criminal justice professor at Kaplan University, School of Public Safety and has more than 20 years of experience in corrections and policing. He has served in various roles, including prison warden and parole administrator, for the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Terry may be reached at tcampbell@kaplan.edu.

Other articles by Campbell


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