Keep Youth out of Adult Prisons

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The sentencing of youth in adult correctional systems can have an extremely negative effect on the development of a young person’s life. Many who are tried as adults end up growing up in these systems where they are ill prepared for life upon release. Reintegrating into society is a hard thing to do for anyone, and even more difficult when you become an adult in the system.

Amongst the variety of individuals that are targeted by the criminal justice system, youth are also affected. Before the Juvenile justice system was created almost 100 years ago, the system did not know what to do with the youth so they were institutionalized with adults. Ignoring the fact that these children came from many walks of life and did not have the guidance nor knowledge of the consequences of their actions, they were thrown away and held accountable for their wrongdoings.

In many cases a child or adolescent's way of thinking and living can be redirected in a positive way, with the right tools and resources of course. These resources consist of extracurricular activities, peer groups and outreach programs and establishments such as The Boys and Girls clubs. The environment of the youth plays a huge role within their lives, whether it’s good or bad, the things that they encounter has a way of shaping their lives.

Realizing that sending young teens to jail with adult criminals was not the best alternative, “In 1972, Congress passed the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, a measure that intended, in part, to remove children who were from the more serious deviants who had actually committed felonies or violent crimes.” Research shows that placing adolescents in adult confinement can influence them to become adult criminals.

The system incarcerates our youth without an evaluation or assessment. Some of the youth that are jailed, have not committed a violent crime. The communities should do a better job at mentoring and having affordable extra-curriculum activities for the youth to be involved in. There are many aspects as to why some youth are incarcerated possible, mental health, drug usage, neglect and many other factors that should be taken into consideration.

 Finally, as a society we must invest in our communities and youth. Keeping with the youth actively involved in the community will help keep them out of trouble, provide them with suitable supervision, and will give them the tools to make better decisions. Also, mentoring our youth to have positive role models to demonstrate that they can do anything they put their minds to. Most kids that get into trouble with the law are either bored or unsupervised so providing youth with positive mentors and activities will help to decrease crime in our juvenile population.

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