Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Debating punishment of juvie offenders

Via Sentencing Law & Policy, "The Room for Debate section of the New York Times has this new set of pieces discussing punishments for juvenile offenders." The debate centers on the questions, "When minors commit violent crimes, should they be treated differently from adults? Is prison effective as a punishment and deterrent for juveniles, or does it harden a young person who might otherwise recover?" Here are the relevant links:


Censored?? said...

So much for free speech huh? In 07' this post as the others would have been filled to the max with a bunch of disgrunted or otherwise rightfully disgrunteled employees. In 12' - nothing... not a peep - all day long. Is that not making you wonder who is watching this blog and what word has gotten out? I don't know. It's weird though.

Anonymous said...

Not much to debate. When it comes to juveniles, punishment doesn't necessarily equal rehabilitation. The only thing that will rehab juveniles is to prepare them to function in society. That takes EDUCATION. As soon as TJJD makes that a priority, then we get to the business of rehabilitating them. Until then, it will continue to be a zoo.

James said...

Education is critical, but you can't teach something to someone who is too busy running around assaulting people.

The first priority is the safety and security of the public. If that means that as a bare minimum the offenders are locked up for a while, then we have a success of sorts. Not much of one, but it is something.

From here we try to rehabilitate as many of the juveniles as we can. Preventing recidivism is better than just short-term incapacitation. Education is a critical component of the rehab process, but it isn't the only component.

The sooner the different components learn to function together instead of playing with their fiefdoms, the sooner a coherent strategy can be developed and implemented using whatever the Lege decides to give TJJD.

Anonymous said...


While I think I understand what you are saying, it seems that you are advocating for two different things. The juvenile justice system is primarily two pronged - safety and security & rehabilitation.

You indicate that they must work together, but then argue for safety and security as a bare minimum. So, in making your argument, it seems you promote the very fiefdom you challenge.

Recidivism for some. If that is the goal, I think we could keep everyone in the community and come close to the 50% we are getting. Rehabilitation for all has to be a huge part of the goal, realizing that 0% recidivism is unprecedented and unlikely, but must be the goal we pursue to make a difference.

Anonymous said...

James said...

"Education is critical, but you can't teach something to someone who is too busy running around assaulting people."

True, but you wouldn't have as much time to assault people if you were attending class, instead of sitting around in the dorm all day thinking of ways to get into trouble.

Educational accomplishments like a diploma or a GED are a status to many of those in TYC/TJJD. Things like the GED were highly coveted, and you could use it as a tool to make them behave. (i.e.; if you want to take the GED, next month, you better mind yourself to perfection.) Too bad those running the corrections side never figured out that you could initiate more positive behavior with things like this, instead of playing poker in the dorms using extorted money, packages from home, and slavery as bargaining chips.

James said...

Anonymous (7:53, 7:52, and 12:34 are probably the same) you completely misunderstand.

It is clear based on your statements that you want Education to run the place by itself. Good luck with that because one-legged tripods don't work very well. You sound like the people we had from Iraan who waltzed in, thought they knew everything and that they should run the entire place, and damn near started a riot the first month when they FUBAR'd everything.

Priority One: safety and security. If they are in "gorilla mode" as some of mine liked to put it, they aren't going to sit still in the classroom.

I had the younger juveniles, so getting the diploma or GED wasn't an immediately obtainable goal. Even for the older juveniles, it is a longer-range goal.

Many of these juveniles live in the moment. How d we get them to behave appropriately today?

We can't bribe them with goodies (I'm looking at you Conextions) because we can't even begin to compete with what they can get on the street.

We need to teach them proper behavior management skills. When they demonstrate the basics, then we can add in the rest of the components of the rehab (or dare I say RESOCIALIZATION) process, which includes, but is not limited to, education.

If the juvenile chooses to not demonstrate proper behavior management, then we go back a step until that juvenile is again ready to not be a disruption to others.

I worked in education before, and I understand the dynamics between academic performance and behavior.

The CoNextions system needs to go. It is all carrot and no stick, and the carrots are pretty pathetic.

A better system will have a good balance between the carrots and the sticks, if for no other reason than to model real life in a somewhat realistic manner. What reward do I get for going to my job? What punishment do I get for punching the person in the office next to me?

When we have a good system of carrots and sticks in place, hopefully as a well-integrated and coordinated part of the overall program, we can make progress.

There is no single silver bullet that will solve everything. As I said previously, education is critical, but it can't be the only tool we use because it won't work for every situation. A mechanic doesn't just use one tool for everything; a variety of tools are used as part of a set to do the job for which they are best suited.

I don't want fiefdoms. I saw enough of that previously. We need coordinated efforts between groups that can put their egos aside and realize they have to be part of a team in order for this to work.

Part of being on a team includes recognizing that there has to be some method for making a final decision. Most organizations have found that you have to have one single entity do this ("No man can serve two masters..."), which brings us back to determining our priorities based on the mission assigned.

What is the "If you can't accomplish anything else, at least do this..." for TJJD?

Can the Missouri model minimize the likelihood of fiefdoms occurring? It appears so. Will we be able to do something similar? I hope so, but I'm not going to hold my breath as long as Whitmire is running around in gorilla mode.

Anonymous said...

A one legged tripod works better than a three-legged tripod with two legs that don't function. There are things happening in those units right now that need to be corrected, that education is trying to correct, and corrections management is either turning a blind eye to, or throwing up every road block possible. That's the problem in a nutshell.

Mel said...

We should get to the root of the problem to find a good solution. Juvenile delinquents have issues or something that drives them to do bad. We should identify that and solve it accordingly.