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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY: WHERE WE’VE BEEN, WHERE WE ARE AND WHAT WORKS. Union University November 10, 2008 Steven C. Hornsby, Deputy Commissioner Tennessee Dept. of Children’s Services Division of Juvenile Justice. JUVENILE DELINQUENCY.

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juvenile delinquency where we ve been where we are and what works

JUVENILE DELINQUENCY:WHERE WE’VE BEEN, WHERE WE ARE AND WHAT WORKS

Union University

November 10, 2008

Steven C. Hornsby, Deputy Commissioner

Tennessee Dept. of Children’s Services

Division of Juvenile Justice

juvenile delinquency
JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
  • 1967 – US Supreme Court, In Re Gault. Gave juvenile offenders same rights as adult defendants. Challenged juvenile court role as parens patriae.
  • Sparked firestorm of controversy – what should be done with juvenile offenders?
  • Two camps:
  • Miniature adults – treat the same. “do the crime, do the time.”
  • Not responsible for behavior- avoid penal approach
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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
  • 1974 – Congress passed Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act
  • Recognized delinquency as a national priority
  • Created OJJDP in Dept. of Justice
  • Appropriated $$’s for research on causes, prevention and treatment of delinquent behavior.
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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
  • 1977 – TN reformed juvenile code. Title 37 created juvenile courts and gave exclusive jurisdiction overdelinquency, dependency, unruly and other cases
  • Sent clear message that most juvenile matters deserve a separate tribunal
  • Set public policy that juvenile issues should be handled apart from adults
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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY

TCA 37-1-101. This part shall be construed to effectuate the following public purposes: . . .

(2) Consistent with the protection of the public interest, remove from children committing delinquent acts the taint of criminality and the consequences of criminal behavior and substitute therefore a program of treatment, training and rehabilitation;

(3) Achieve the foregoing purposes in a family environment whenever possible, separating the child from (the) parents only necessary for such child’s welfare or in the interest of public safety . . .

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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY

Early 1990’s – OJJDP research projects begin yielding fruit.

Meta – analysis approach developed by Lipsey, et al. that allowed “big picture” look at common characteristics of successful delinquency reduction programs.

OJJDP publishes “Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent and Chronic Juvenile Offenders”. Research-based recommendations for use of graduated sanctions, early and intermediate interventions with focus on community responses to delinquency and use of incarceration only for serious, violent offenders.

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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
  • Early 1990’s, cont. – Moral Panic sets in. Predictions of wave of violent, lawless juveniles made headlines.
  • Fact - Increase in violent juvenile crime from 1980’s.
  • “Superpredator” myth abounds. Stereotype of inner-city African-American youth, gang members, heavily armed. Gang initiation urban myths proliferate. Ex. – “don’t flash your headlights!”
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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY

Results were rash of “get tough” laws on juveniles:

Blended juvenile/adult sentences with longer lengths of confinement.

Transfer to adult court.

“Three strikes” laws.

Zero-tolerance laws especially with schools.

Fear and punishment-based programs.

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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY

Myths

  • “Juvenile crime is increasing.” False –juvenile arrests and commitments to state custody began decreasing in 1995 and continue decreasing.
  • “Juvenile crime is the top violent crime problem in the country.” False – adult violent crime is by far greater. Vast majority of offenses committed by juvenile are non-violent.
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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
  • “Minority youthcommit more violent crime.” False – no empirical evidence to prove that minority youth are more disposed to violence.
  • “Serious violent young offenderscannot be rehabilitated.” False – research indicates that even most serious young offenders can be successfully rehabilitated.
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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
  • “Punishment, including long terms of confinement, is an effective method of reducing delinquent behavior.” False – research is very clear that punishment doesn’t work. In fact, it can make youthful offenders worse.
  • Ex. – Scared Straight, harsh boot camps, juvenile/adult blended sentences.
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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY

WHAT WORKS?

  • Myth – “Nothing works”.
  • FALSE – Appropriate intervention services that address the factors that promote antisocial behavior can effectively reduce and prevent delinquent behavior.
  • KEY – identify RISK FACTORS!
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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY

RISK PRINCIPLE

  • Factors within youth’s environment associate with antisocial behavior
  • Appropriate level of intervention (consistent with level of risk) designed to reduce risk factors, if delivered correctly, can reduce antisocial behaviors
  • Low risk cases receive lower intensity of services while higher risk receive higher level of services and security
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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY

RISK PRINCIPLE

  • Use resources wisely! Past history has been to over-rely on incarceration
  • Target interventions based on identified risk factors.
  • Use community based interventions when youth present moderate and low level of risk
  • Use residential/secure only for higher risk offenders
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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY

Risk Factors

  • History of antisocial/delinquent behavior
  • Attitudes, values, beliefs
  • Family values, history, parenting
  • Peer associations
  • School/ job involvement
  • Substance use
  • Use of leisure time
  • Personality/behavior traits (optimistic v. depressive, etc.)

NOTE: all but first are dynamic – can be changed!

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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY

Protective Factors

  • Positive family functioning. Adequate supervision, consistent and fair discipline, non-abusive, non-violent
  • Presence of supportive adult
  • Emotional maturity
  • Commitment to school or job
  • Positive peer group
  • Positive community activities
  • Hobbies/sports
  • Pro-social attitudes
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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY

Effective Interventions

  • Family engagement interventions. No longer sufficient to focus just on child’s behavior. Ex. – Family Functional Therapy
  • Changing thinking and attitudes of youth. Ex. – behavior modification programs, CBT, “Thinking for Change”
  • Educational and vocational skills that are relevant to kid’s life
  • Mentoring
  • Restorative justice – builds empathy
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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY

Recent Brain Research

  • Pre-frontal lobes continue developing into mid-20’s
  • Locus of judgment, decision-making, risk – analysis, actions and consequences
  • Thought processes are malleable – can be influenced
  • New thought patterns and behaviors can be learned – not determined for life-course
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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY

Why does this matter?

  • Adult corrections is abysmal. Doesn’t abate antisocial behavior – furthers it. Creates smarter criminals.
  • What nation incarcerates highest % of citizens?
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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY

For the first time in history, we can say to a scientific certainty that we know what can be done to effectively change the lives of young people and reduce their participation in criminal behavior. In so doing, we can reduce the number of people who suffer as a result of crime while also reducing the amount of taxpayer dollars spent to warehouse those convicted of crimes.

What should that give us? . . .

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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY

HOPE

That fewer victims will suffer

That fewer families will break apart

That more young people will break the cycle of violence and poverty

That fewer people will spend their lives behind bars contributing nothing to their families, communities and society.

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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY

“WHEN YOU’VE DONE IT FOR THE LEAST OF THESE, YOU HAVE DONE IT FOR ME.”

Jesus