Essay Rehabilitation not Incarceration

Submitted By denisegriffith75
Words: 717
Pages: 3

According to Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ), an organization dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under age eighteen in the adult criminal justice system, “Every day in America, an average of 7,500 youth are incarcerated in adult jails” (“Juveniles” 1). To attempt to account for the actual number of youth entering and exiting adult jails on a daily basis, some researchers estimate the average to be ten or twenty times higher (“Juveniles” 1). The fact is, in today’s society, juvenile crime is becoming more and more frequent. And the majority of people believe no crime should go unpunished. There is a serious controversy in the United States on whether to incarcerate or rehabilitate juveniles. Juveniles are less culpable, less mature, and less responsible than adults. A juvenile brain is not fully able to know right from wrong. Their values, views, and beliefs are not fully formed. Many youth have difficulty distinguishing between good and bad. According to John Coleman, “Juveniles have not developed in the same way as adults. They are more given to impulsivity, recklessness are more susceptible to peer pressure. They are inherently less responsible-which does not mean entirely un-responsible! Neuroscientists have shown that brain regions and systems responsible for foresight, self-regulation, risk assessment, responsiveness to social influences continue to mature until early adulthood” (2). Meaning, minors often commit severe crimes because of their level of emotional, psychological, and social development. Therefore, they cannot be fully responsible for their actions and their consequences. Juveniles have little or no control over their environment. He or she cannot change the type of parents they might have or neighborhood he or she lives in. Coleman suggests, “Minors need to be considered differently than adults in sentencing due to the differences in the brain development, emotional maturity and their greater capacity for rehabilitation” (2). Juveniles should be sentenced to rehabilitation, not incarceration.
In adult jails, juveniles are not safe and they are at great risk of physical and sexual assault. For instance, according to U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in 2005 and 2006, “21% and 13%, respectively, of the victims of inmate-on-inmate sexual violence in jails were youth under the age of 18- a surprisingly high percentage of victims considering that only 1% of all jail inmates are juveniles” (“Juveniles” 1). Jailers can reduce the physical and sexual harm by simply separating the juveniles from the adult inmates. It cannot be denied that when a juvenile enters an adult prison, that child or teenager becomes a victim to other adult cellmates. However, juveniles are often placed in isolation, where they are locked down in small cells for with limited contact can worsen exiting mental disorders, and increase risk of suicide. In fact, CFYJ states, “youth have the highest suicide rates of all inmates in jails. Youth