In this assignment I will be addressing the issues regarding the success of juvenile prisons. I will be looking at the current and theoretical aims, objectives and whether or not they are achieving them. Are juvenile prisons there just their to punish or to reform. Also are juvenile prisons worth the tax payers’ money, our money? I will also be commenting on secondary schemes like tagging and how other countries deal with rebellious juveniles. Fundamentally, the reason why children disobey the law, was it bad upbringing or wrong social circles?
Children who break the law are not supposed to be treated as adults, since they are regarded as more amenable to change then adults. Children are regarded to have less responsibility for their actions. Juvenile prisons are there to hold juveniles who have broken the law. Fundamentally as a punishment so the crime they have committed, hence the time they serve. Juvenile prisons are there also to help deter people from actually committing a crime, theoretically speaking. In reality many juveniles are not deterred by these institutes. There was a measure by the government called the “short sharp shock”.
This was a programme designed to deter youths from offending, it was more aimed at children who had one more chance before being sent to prison. The short sharp shock was an introduction to prison for the juveniles. This proved to be un-successful back in the 80’s where the re-offending rate rose to 80% with-in two years of discharge. Are these institutes designed to make society a better place? Juveniles who have spent time in these institutes are likely to end up in prison as adults, confirming the notion that prison establishments are “universities of crime”.
According to the Home Office figures 70 to 80% of juveniles offenders commit harsher offences within two years. So these institutes are only temporary measures to keep the streets safe. Institutes like Feltham have a high re-offending rate, up to 80%. Feltham provide the basics for a juvenile prison, just a cell, food and a sanitised shelter. The reason why the re-offending rates are so high, is that the government are not tackling the reasons why juveniles turn against the law. In the majority of cases this comes back to money!
There was an American boot camp which was set up in the UK, the re-offending rate when juveniles, left as half that of Feltham, the reason being that the boot camp tackled the youths problems, rather then turning a blind eye. In principle the government will not finance institutes like that of boot camp nationwide, as the boot camp cost i?? 1500 to i?? 2000 per juvenile, and Feltham cost as little as i?? 600 a week. Boot camps, train their inmates both physically and mentally. They give their inmates skills and qualifications in order for them to get a job when they leave.
In terms of the boot camps low re-offending rate, the extra money put in is put to good use, where-as in Feltham it’s just a temporary measure to keep them off the streets. More recent evidence shows that, faced with poor economic conditions, unemployment and the reality of the devastating effects of the use of illegal drugs, more young people turn to crime. Having identified the fundamental problem, it is necessary for the government to provide facilities in which they can get skills and an education so juveniles do not have to turn to crime. Also, a break down in family can some juveniles turn rebellious.
There was a juvenile called Paul, aged 15, who had a series of family problem and a history of depression and anger. He isolated him self from his parents which led him to attempt suicide three times over the past year. His stepfather, himself, has a history of mental problems. The previous year he tried suicide twice. “He’d get angry and aggressive. He’s a big lad, and when he gets angry he can do a lot of damage. ” This is a lack of communication, another form of breakdown in family, which turns this teenager violent, and “he can do a lot of damage” Institutionalisation does not act as a deterrent since re-offending rates remain high.
Mainly juveniles do not give much thought to the consequences of being caught when committing a crime. Some commit merely to prove higher in gang organisations. Tagging is a secondary scheme set up by the government. It is a supervision programme that could replace Britain’s deteriorating custodial system. There are immediate benefits to tagging, over custodial sentencing. Teenagers in the Sunderland area, averaged 10 to 12 crimes in the year before being introduced to the tagging programme, after the number has fallen to two to three offences, whilst under supervision.
Tagging and curfews involves activities which include education and training, interventions to stop anti social behaviour and development of behavioural skills. Also, the chance to work with, the victims of crime. It is much cheaper then sentencing juveniles to prisons, a six month tagging programme cost i?? 6000 per individual, whilst custodial sentencing cost around i?? 21000 per individual over a six month period. The way in which America deals with juveniles, I personally is more effective, they sentence juveniles to the boot-camp, this trains juveniles.
The camp makes them responsible for their own actions, fit, healthy and well educated. It is an obedience school, which teaches juveniles that hard work pays off through schemes with in the camp called merit points. In my view I think that the current juvenile prison set up is failing. Schemes such as “tagging” and “boot-camp” are a welcoming new hope for disobedient juveniles in the UK. The government needs to put more money in the juvenile prisons to cater for educational facilities and tackle the juvenile’s core problems, mainly, a lack of skills.