CRJ301: Juvenile Justice
Instructor: Curtis Turney
March 29, 2015
Most people feel uncomfortable openly discussing sex offenders in open forums, let alone juvenile offenders. People often look for simple answers and quick to rush judgement and demand a person to be punished for their actions. We see this type of thinking all over the news, like in Ferguson, MO, where half of society was willing to send a police officer to prison for life on their initial reactions. Juvenile sex offenders are an easy topic to discuss because it brings up taboos in our lives and cultural which we as a whole are uncomfortable with, but to truly help stop the cycle of violence we need to address this problem head on and with compassion for the victims but for the suspects as well. Taking juvenile sex offenders off to be punished with not solve this problem and will only continue the cycle of violence. To effect prevent, deter, juvenile sexual offenders we must not look to punish the individual but me must look to treat and rehabilitate the offender as well. The easy route to punish the criminals but to actually help them we need to understand the definition of treatment and rehabilitation, analyze crime statistics from states with various theories on the justice system, review outdated biological theories and social theories on juvenile delinquency to better understand what is effective policing strategies and ultimately conclude that rehabilitation and treatment is the only proven method of success when dealing with juvenile sex offenders.
Before we can implement a philosophy of treatment for juvenile sex offenders we first understand the individuals were are dealing with and identify the challenges associated with this group of offenders. It is well known fact and understanding that “sex offenders are often placed on the lowest rung of the criminal hierarchy— meaning that most people feel that sex offenders are the worst of the worst,” (Listwan, 2013). When any individual is incarcerated for sex crime they are automatically labeled, segregated, and looked down upon by not only guards but the other inmates. This makes them targets for violence while incarcerated as well as targets once they are released back into society. What is often forgotten most of these offenders were victims of a sexual offense at some point in their past. “A number of juvenile sex offenders have experienced a high accumulated burden of adversity, including maltreatment or exposure to violence; others have not. In some cases, a history of childhood sexual abuse appears to contribute to later juvenile sex offending,” (Finkelhor, 2009). Unlike most other juveniles in our criminal justice system we are not just dealing with personal choices for their own desires but dealing with deep rooted psychological issues that led to the juvenile’s behavior. Due to the nature of these crimes most people do not feel comfortable discussing these topics which causes society to be disconnected with these offenders.
Understanding that there are social disconnect with dealing with juvenile sexual offenders we as a society must address the underlying issues which caused the juvenile to become an offender. As discussed by Grayson, “early theories about children who sexually abuse others proposed that these individuals move through a predictable progression. In this cycle, an event causes a negative emotional response in the youth. The youth attempts to gain control of this response but fails. He then feels anger and rage, which in turn lead to thoughts of retaliation and fantasies of overpowering another, which lead to an assault,” (Grayson, 1991). As discussed by Grayson this type of situation is commonly referred to as a cycle of violence. Through years of research we have proven that dealing sex offenders punishment alone will not break the cycle the