Friday, March 23, 2012

What do you think about sending kids to adult prisons?

http://psyccritiquesblog.apa.org/2012/03/what-is-really-wrong-with-treating-juvenile-offenders-more-like-adults.html#comments

Check out this blog...then, let me know what you think.

I have worked inside prisons, jails, and juvenile institutions. I know there are some bad people out there. BUT, I've also seen a lot of good people make bad choices. Also, what I know about development, and psychology in general, and from reading a plethora of social science research and statistics on what happens to juveniles when put into adult prisons, leads me to believe that the worst thing we can do as a society is make choices out of fear and "throw" kids into adult jails. In my opinion, it's the quickest way to ensure they are ruined for life.

So I read this blog today on an APA blog--he was blogging in response to a new book that recently came out....

"In his review of Slobogin and Fondacaro's book Juveniles at Risk: A Plea for Preventive Justice, Norman White states, I
agree with the authors that it is very important to use evidence-based
research in the process of trying to understand how to provide quality
care and treatment of youths; it is imperative that we examine current
functioning and practices of the court as it has moved far from its
basic foundation of parens patriae.
The movement toward treating children as adults, viewing them as
adults, and punishing them as adults is harmful to their lives'
trajectories. We need reasoned and clearly vetted program development. I
am not sure that preventive justice provides that solution.Does
good research evidence exist that treating youths like adults in the
juvenile justice system is harmful? Isn't it part of society's role to
prepare youths for adult responsibilities? Don't we as parents,
teachers, neighbors, etc. try to teach our young people what it means to
be an adult by instilling in them adult values and habits (such as be
on time for class/work, empathize with others, learn to cooperate with
classmates/co-workers, and that acting unethically or illegally—e.g.,
cheating on an exam, stealing—has negative consequences)? So, shouldn't
juvenile offenders be treated, at least to some extent, like adult
offenders? And isn't there research evidence to demonstrate the
effectiveness of this type of training in preventing further delinquent
behavior?

Read the Review
It's Broke; We Must Fix It: A Selective Incapacitation Approach to Juvenile Justice By Norman A. White PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(12)"

my "comment" to this was:


YES! There
is a plethora of social science research detailing the devastating
effects of children being thrown into the adult penal system. Among many
great psychologists and criminal justice researchers, Arizona State
University has done amazing work in conjunction with other research1
universities and have found that even though juveniles do "adult-like"
crime, they still have a much higher chance for rehabilitation. Yet, if
they are put into adult prisons, they have the same recidivism rates as
adults. In part because once they are thrown into a world of hardened
criminals, they "learn" the ways of criminals that have been in the
system for the majority of their lives and even more devastating,
because of their age, size, and vulnerability, they at a much higher
risk for physical and sexual abuse.
Yes, as a psychologist and as a mother, I want to instill good values
in children. I don't believe in permissiveness. I believe that justice
is important, especially when juveniles commit horrific crimes. But,
there are much better ways (scientifically proven ways) to do that other
than to punish them "this" harshly and punish them in "that" way.
Actually, research says the opposite of your remarks, especially your
final remark. Developmentally, because of adolescents' cognitive
limitations, as well as their emotional developmental level during
adolescence, putting juveniles in an adult system is not, anywhere near,
the most effective way "to prepare youths for adult responsibilities"
nor is it effective "in preventing further delinquent behavior".
Again-quite the opposite.
The developmental stage of adolescence and his/her age and
vulnerability, must be taken into consideration when thinking about
punishment and rehabilitation.
Dr. Lloyd

Posted by:
Dr. Carrie A. Lloyd Friday, March 23, 2012 at 05:46 PM


I could have gone on and on.....................

2 comments:

  1. A comment on the same blog from Professor Heller:


    Does good research evidence exist that treating youths like adults in the juvenile justice system is harmful?

    Yes

    Isn't it part of society's role to prepare youths for adult responsibilities?

    Yes

    Don't we as parents, teachers, neighbors, etc. try to teach our young people what it means to be an adult by instilling in them adult values and habits (such as be on time for class/work, empathize with others, learn to cooperate with classmates/co-workers, and that acting unethically or illegally—e.g., cheating on an exam, stealing—has negative consequences)?

    Yes

    So, shouldn't juvenile offenders be treated, at least to some extent, like adult offenders?

    Non sequitur. The previous questions assume that young people are becoming adults. This question assumes they already are adults.

    And isn't there research evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of this type of training in preventing further delinquent behavior?

    First, which type of training? Second, if you know of any such research, post it. Otherwise, I've encountered research answering that it is a bad idea to treat juveniles as adults in the criminal justice system.


    Posted by: Jack Heller | Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 03:26 PM

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think part of the problem here is the lack of operational definitions and clarity in what exactly is being discussed. For example, "Don't we as parents, teachers, neighbors, etc. try to teach our young people what it means to be an adult by instilling in them adult values and habits", and "cheating on exams, stealing...", implies more typical, or at least non-violent, immoral behaviors. I agree with Mr. Heller's comment that the consequent connection to then treating juveniles as adult offenders is unclear. So, at one end of the spectrum, we are speaking of kids who do bad things (or how we can prevent kids from doing bad things) or of kids who commit lesser crimes (which I have no doubt that different psychologists would argue over what the definition of a lesser crime would be--in my opinion, non-violent in nature). On the opposite end of the spectrum are very serious crimes (which I believe Mr. Eisenman is speaking more to). Obviously some, juveniles are "hard-core criminals who will hurt you without remorse", but as a psychologist, and as someone who also has worked in juvenile and adult jails and prisons, there are not "many" (see Rothman, 1980; National Criminal Justice Association, 1997; U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics [http://www.albany.edu/sourcebook/]), and certainly not the majority of juveniles, that fit this extreme look into juveniles that commit crimes. Yes, society needs protection, but especially those that didn't commit serious crimes, whether juveniles are put into juvenile institutions, or adults, society is protected--the person is off the streets. In my opinion it is more about society's perception of protection. In addition, there are many options today other than the more historically typical--going to a juvenile institution and then being "released at 18 or 21 years of age" and these policies differ by state. And definitely murder is a severe crime--but many juveniles are being put into adult prisons for crimes other than murder, assault, and rape. But, of course, if we are talking about those hardened criminals, that have committed serious crimes, in my opinion regardless of age, these criminals need to be tried as adults and society definitely needs as much protection as possible from them.

    I agree that this is an extremely complex issue. Many good ideas have been addressed so far, and I would love to see this conversation continue, so that even more parts to this dynamic problem are brought up. My only hope is that all dimensions of this topic be addressed, especially instead of just the extreme ends of the dimension, and that we carefully examine each case as well as each developmental and sociological issue before we make even more harmful policies in the wrong direction.

    Some great readings in this area:
    (Clarke, 1996; Dawson, 1990; Feld, 1993, 1998; Singer, 1996)

    Research on intervention for juvenile offenders:
    https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/181201.pdf

    Negative effects of juveniles in adult prisons:
    Austin, Dedel Johnson, & Gregoriou. (2000).
    Juveniles in Adult Prisons and Jails: A National Assessment

    Dr. Hepburn, ASU, is a prolific author on juvenile incarceration and rehabilitation:
    example: Hepburn, J. & Albonetti, C. (1994). Recidivism among drug offenders: A survival analysis of the effects of offender characteristics, type of offense, and two types of intervention.


    Posted by: Dr. Carrie A. Lloyd | Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 05:58 PM

    ReplyDelete