Adolescent Crime A Result Of Socioeconomic Instabilities

1397 words - 6 pages

The overwhelming increase in crime during the mid-1980s through the early 1990s created a disenfranchisement that placed a great deal of pressure on the juvenile justice system. Pressure associated with increased levels of crime gears conservative believers in social responsibility to implement harsher punishments as an avenue for social protection. Conversely, liberally-minded individuals gravitate toward the social problems perspective, believing that rehabilitation is the only method adequate to protect society. Inherent in the controversial topic of trying juveniles as adults is an increased responsibility to create a functional system geared towards improving society as a whole. The reasons to decrease the practice of trying juveniles as adults include: the affect of prisonization; successful rehabilitative programs; and an overall decrease in juvenile offending. Delinquent adolescents can be a positive mark on the future of the United States, or they can be the habitual life-offender of tomorrow; thus, they need proper care and guidance to ensure they do not become the latter.

The juvenile justice system represents, perhaps, the one time when society can intervene positively in the life of an individual whose run astray. Protecting society, no doubt, is a reverent goal, requiring the utmost attention-to-detail; however, at what cost should this goal be achieved? Incarcerating youth offenders—some as young as fifteen years of age—in adult prisons proves dangerous to the potential growth and level of rehabilitative capacity for these persons. According to Democratic Councilman Phil Mendelson, “…statistical evidence shows adult-court prosecution tends to reinforce—rather than diminish—young offenders’ criminal tendencies” (Katel 2008). One potential reason for this is the system of human interaction that allows adolescents, already attuned to delinquent cognitive processes, to affirm their misguided beliefs through interaction with older, more experienced career criminals. This is because humans, by nature, are social beings. A new study, published in the European Journal of Neuroscience, demonstrates that humans are predisposed to social interactions, and, furthermore, associate those interactions with potential rewards. The article states, in its abstract that: “Social reward dependence (RD) in humans is a stable pattern of attitudes and behavior hypothesized to represent a favorable disposition towards social relationships and attachment as a personality dimension” (Lebreton, et al, 2009). Attachment is a form of impulse that, when misguided and immature, as in the case of adolescents, can be more easily manipulated towards further delinquency upon their release. In effect, one can refer to this a side-effect of prison culture, or prisonization. It is perhaps one of the more destructive features of adult correctional institutions. As social and immature beings, adolescents are beginning to develop their concrete personalities,...

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