Monday, April 18, 2016

Juvenile Incarceration

In my social work class, we are watching a documentary on the juvenile justice system, specifically dealing with kids in jail.  The documentary highlights specific children and their experiences in jail.  It focuses on the mistreatment these kids received and demands a reform to the system.  The sad part is that the majority of children who are arrested and convicted of a crime have some sort of mental illness.  People are ready to immediately throw these kids in jail because of their actions, believing that incarceration will solve their behavior problems, but this is not the case.  The jailing of children often makes their behavior worse, especially when they have a mental illness.  Kids are often diagnosed with this illness in jail, but are not treated properly.  Many receive psychoactive drugs that ultimately make their behavior worse.  This could lead to fighting with other inmates or causing other disturbances which lead to solitary confinement.  Solitary confinement can be even more detrimental to the health of these kids, leading them to act out.  The effects of their strong medication mixed with solitary confinement is a dangerous combination for these children.  Personally, I have mixed feelings about jail.  I think, for kids especially, jail is not always the answer.  People should be more concerned about finding the reason behind the child's action rather than jumping to severe punishment.  If the underlying issue can be resolved, then the child is much less likely to continue committing crimes, especially if the problem is a mental illness.  I do think that jails serve a purpose, and people who commit crimes need some sort of punishment, but I think the approach needs to change.  A better approach should be taken, one that focuses on finding and correcting the reason these people are committing crimes.  Sometimes, this cause is a mental illness; other times, it could be the result of a traumatic event.  Either way, efforts should be focused on fixing the underlying cause of the particular action.  Torture is not an effective way to elicit change.  Often times, it just makes people more angry and inclined to violence.  The ultimate goal of jail is to correct bad behavior, and in order to accomplish this, the full story of the individual needs to be taken into account.  There is too much mistreatment of inmates lately, which is ultimately hurting society as a whole.  The justice system needs to take a new approach that will more effectively inflict change in the lives of the inmates.

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