Juvenile Delinquency Problem: Reducing Recidivism Rates

Have you ever envisioned having children and preparing them for a correctional facility once they reached the age of 12?

By Ebony Randolph
Published on LatinoLA: May 6, 2013

Juvenile Delinquency Problem: Reducing Recidivism Rates

Every second a child a is born, and as that child is born, another is transitioning into a new stage of their life. A new stage in their life that is unpredictable, unsuitable, and unstable.

I am not referring to the transition of puberty in adolescence, but the transition from the juvenile detention facility back into society.

Have you ever envisioned having children and preparing them for a correctional facility once they reached the age of 12? How about raising your children to be mentally prepared for the unexpected events they may face while being in a juvenile hall? If you answered no, or of course not, you're not alone.

Many children, predominately African American and Latino males, are thrown in juvenile detention centers after minor mishaps with the law, and while they are in there, are now groomed to be legit street criminals once they leave.

It is not the damage that takes place prior to them entering these facilities that determine their future, but the damage that is done while they are in there. These young men and women go in as children who haven't fully developed biologically in their brain or body, yet leave the system just to go right back.

The mentality inside the juvenile correctional facilities is to survive, like Darwin's survival of the Fittest, so once they leave that is all they know. Many of the children who are going inside the detention facilities do not have parents or guidance from outside support, so they turn to gangs and develop a relationship with a "street family." Through this family, they are taught the incorrect values and morals of life to surviving, often involving crimes.

This leads to the beginning of a cycle that has these once underdeveloped children, now mentally effected teenagers, into a system of going in and out of the juvenile institution. They have become so accustomed to the illegal lifestyle and living behind bars, it has become their second home. Thus, they go back and forth, in and out, until they finally transition to adult prisons and overpopulate those as well.

We have many problems within our society, but we must fix one at a time. Today, we need to discuss the issue of rehabilitating our youth and decreasing the recidivism rates in their efforts of continuing to go in and out of the juvenile detention centers. With the Department of Juvenile Justice having 80% of the youth returning back after they are released, something isn't being done correctly.

We need to look at how this impacts us individually and as a whole through the domino effect. Once a child drops out of school, they either turn to the streets and rob us, or they go to jail and yet we still are robbed through the money we pay through taxes to keep them caged in their cells. Some of you may be thinking, well they did the crime so they need to do the time. While this may be true, let's think about what happens next.

Once they are released, most likely they are uneducated, so they wont be able to get a job. Once they can not receive a legitimate means of income, they turn right back to the streets and pursue their career in crime, get arrested, and the cycle continues. But what if it could stopped the first time they committed a crime and are released?

What if services were provided to the youth so they could have access to resources once they were released so they could receive their GED or high school diploma, employment opportunities, and even mental health services? These are the same children and youth members of society that once learned how to make money illegally, but could now be making a difference within themselves and contributing back to the community.

The possibilities are endless when you teach a child the correct way of living. Now imagine teaching your child how to be prepared for making mistakes but always picking themselves back up and progressing. Imagine preparing your child for greatness through imperfections and support. Imagine preparing your child to make a difference in the lives of other children by showing them they have a community to support them. All these preparations could and would impact the lives of each child that is born every second, and making that transition for the other child more exciting for their future.

Reducing the recidivism rates is important to us a society, but in order to do that, we must remember the importance the youth, our children, your children, hold in our lives. All it takes is one bad decision and that could impact the rest of their life, but it also takes one good decision and one supportive community to turn that mistake into a success story.

About Ebony Randolph:
USC Masters student in the school of Social Work.
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