Juvenile Justice VS. Recidivism

Professor Sergio Sanchez

Joshua Johnson-Domio

POLS 331-CSU Chico


The effect of the juvenile justice system on Recidivism

Juvenile delinquency is a major problem that lacks the proper attention in the United States. In the news we always hear about adult criminal activity, new laws being passed, and so forth; but rarely do we ever hear about the juvenile delinquents and what happens with them. Over 2.1 million juveniles were arrested in the United States in 2008 and over 80,000 were housed in juvenile detention or correctional facilities (Abrams 2011, 492). This literature review will focus on the effect of the juvenile justice system on recidivism rates. What is meant by recidivism rate is the rate that prior offenders re offend after being released back into the community.While offenders are punished for their crimes, little is done to deter them from continuing a life of crime. Most juvenile offenders tend to recidivate into their adult years. If this occurs, crime will continue to rise as our youth mature and grow up. In order to prevent this, we must understand what causes a juvenile delinquent to recidivate and what will deter them. What is more effective at reducing recidivism rates, rehabilitation or punitive programs?

Some studies show 50 percent of incarcerated youth will have repeat contact with the juvenile justice system (Abrams 2011, 493). Juvenile offenders account for 15 percent of all violent crimes and 24 percent of all property crimes (Ryan 2013, 2). With juveniles making up this portion of crimes, the crime rate is sure to increase if juveniles continue to recidivate into adulthood. Our main focus should not be on adult offenders. Since our youth are the offenders of tomorrow, we should concentrate on rehabilitating juvenile offenders. If we cannot stop recidivism amongst juveniles, then there is even less hope of stopping crime rates from rising. My hypothesis is that juvenile recidivism rates will continue to increase (Dependent Variable) if punishment is imposed on juveniles rather than rehabilitation (Independent Variable). My literature review will seek to answer how the juvenile justice system encourages future criminality, and which juveniles are more at risk of recidivism than others as well as provide reasoning and empirical research.

The system we currently have in play contributes to and causes recidivism in juveniles. This system is retributive justice, which is the theory that holds an offender accountable for a crime by imposing a punishment on them to stigmatise the offender. The theory of retributive justice defines c