Throughout the course of American history research paper
Throughout the course of American history, it is evident that juvenile delinquency is a rampant issue throughout the United States. However, each state handles these young offenders differently; while some states choose to invest in rehabilitation programs, other states focus on punishing these adolescents, deeming rehabilitation as insignificant. When conducting research on my home state, New York, I found their approach to be an amendatory process. Specifically, the state is committed to rebuilding the lives of their juvenile delinquents through interventions and diversion programs.
Juvenile Delinquency in New York dates all the way back to the 17th century. In fact, “Detention of juveniles in New York City began shortly after the opening of the New York State penitentiary in 1797.” (http://www.correctionhistory.org/html/chronicl/djj/djj20yrs3.htm) Initially, New York believed that parents should deal with their child’s rebellious behavior rather than the state intervening. This mentality was based on the English Common Law, which is also known as “the legal system that was created in England and adopted in the United States, which uses previous court decisions to determine the outcome of the cases currently before the court”. (https://onlinelaw.wustl.edu/blog/legal-english-common-law/) However, this stance drastically changed as the state thought that they could be a helpful tool in rehabilitating these teens’ lives. As a result of being put under pressure from the New York Society for the Prevention of Pauperism, (who wanted to implement a separate juvenile justice institution) “...the New York State Assembly to approve construction of the House of Refuge for delinquent children in 1824.” Rather than being incarcerated, this institution created a safe space where troubled teens could be housed with others they could relate to. This new space provided the young adults with opportunities to become "rehabilitated" and learn new techniques to better manage themselves. Nonetheless, this was just the start of the rehabilitation process in New York.
Moving on to 1978, the state legislature passed a law that would change the lives of troubled adolescents.“The New York State Legislature passed the Juvenile Offender Act… the Department of Juvenile Justice was created in this environment; it was expected to not only offer youth a chance for reform, but to concurrently hold them accountable for their actions.” (http://www.correctionhistory.org/html/chronicl/djj/djj20yrs3.htm#1800) Despite teens being charged as adults, they would live with other adolescents in a facility, promoting less emotional distress and enforcing more effective restorative outcomes. Hence, this act served as a turning point in these teens’ lives, as they were held accountable for their actions and were taught coping techniques. Thus, legislation such as the Juvenile Offender Act served as a pathway for other rehabilitation programs that would come in the near future.
Presently in the 21st century, there are many programs for juvenile delinquents in New York. For starters, the Center for Court Innovation has a youth program that “provide young people with meaningful alternatives to the formal justice system and engage youth voices to improve justice for all.” (https://www.courtinnovation.org/areas-of-focus/youth-programs) This program gives low offenders from the ages of 16-24 a different approach towards restoration. Due to evidence that suggests that “Scientists know that the adolescent brain is still developing, that it is highly subject to reward- and peer-influence, and that its rate of development varies widely across the population” (http://clbb.mgh.harvard.edu/juvenilejustice/), this program believes in a different approach in dealing with these teens. Instead of incarceration by the court system, the court proposed that teens should get connected to resources in order to avoid future misdemeanors. According to the courtinnovation.org, “The Brooklyn Young Adult Court is presided over by a dedicated judge and is staffed by dedicated prosecutors, defense advocates, and social workers. All court staff have received specialized training on the unique needs of young adults” . It is evident that the state has invested copious amounts of money in this program, is they invested money in experienced, specialized workers. Along with the delinquent’s willingness to learn, a worker’s experience is of utmost importance, as they are the foundation of that teen’s new mindset.
Yet resource in New York is CASES, a diversion program dedicated to preventing further criminalization and incarceration in adolescents. According to CASES, “Our interventions for youth include: preventing the arrest of high-risk youth through neighborhood-based programs, preventing the obtainment by teens of a criminal record (post-arrest but before a decision is made in Family Court to file charges)... preventing the incarceration of medium- and high-risk young people age 16-24 facing felony convictions in Supreme Court, preventing the recidivism of young people age 16-24 returning to the community from jail or prison”. (https://www.cases.org/youth/) The aims of this diversion program vary widely, and teens of different situations are given a second chance at reforming their lives. Arguably, the most impressive aspect of this program is that it focuses on the future rather than the present problem. By warning these teens about the repercussions of their crime-ridden behaviors, this prevents them from reoffending and making the same mistakes. This is accomplished through the program’s extensive services, “Comprehensive screening and assessment including of clinical needs, case management, education and employment services, mentoring, in-home family therapy, state-licensed mental health treatment, substance abuse testing and counseling, assistance with obtaining public benefits, linkages to a network of support and treatment providers across New York City”. Through these resources, adolescents are more likely to make greater strides in their rehabilitative process, thus decreasing their likelihood of being incarcerated in the future.
The outcomes of CASES proves that this program has truly reformed these teens’ lives, “nearly 90% of recent program graduates have no new conviction within two years of completing CASES’ services”. Through emphasizing the need of changing these deviant behaviors early on in an effort to avoid further incarceration, these teens are confronted with the disastrous outcomes of their criminal actions, therefore revolutionizing their mindset towards coping with their feelings. Instead of using crime as a way of dealing with their emotions, teens can now utilize these services. As a result, this empowers these adolescents to make better decisions, as well as the capacity to cope with these emotions in a more conducive, rational manner.
Juvenile Delinquency has been prominent throughout the course of American history. One can simply look up how each state dealt with these teen offenders and uncover different results. While some states choose to be less progressive in rehabilitating these teens, New York has been the epitome of a progressive state, as they have invested copious amounts of money into rehabilitative programs such as interventions and diversion programs. Despite New York previously not tampering with juvenile delinquency in the 17th century, as the years have progressed, they have become more involved in these adolescents’ lives. Installations of diversion programs and interventions such as the Center for Court Innovation and CASES have paved the way for a new life for the youth, as adolescents are provided with services that change not only their cognitive patterns but also their actions.
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