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NCJ Number: 191089 Find in a Library
Title: Hidden Evil of Children Living in Jail
Journal: Children's Legal Rights Journal  Volume:21  Issue:1  Dated:Spring 2001  Pages:2-11
Author(s): Wallace J. Mlyniec
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 10
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This document discusses the policy of putting adolescents in adult prisons.
Abstract: Prior to 1899, children who committed crimes were prosecuted in adult courts. During 1899, the treatments provided by the juvenile court was guidance and care to steer the youth away from a life of crime and immorality. Juvenile court was never a perfect instrument of social control so legislatures and courts reformed it over the years. In the last decade, the public’s perception of crime and the increasing number of crimes committed by children have changed policy. Because of new policies, the number of children under age 18 sentenced to adult prisons more than doubled between 1985 and 1997. Adolescence is a time for experimentation, risk taking, and failures of judgment. Left to the juvenile court, most children who cause trouble live through the period and grow to lead productive lives. However, youths treated as adults have a greatly reduced probability of surviving adolescence with their live chances intact. Over 70 percent of children waived into adult court were first time offenders. Most of the children charged as adults had not been accused of heinous crimes, but of nonviolent offenses such as property offenses, drug offenses, and public disorder. Children who kill accounted for only a small percentage of those who were prosecuted as adults. Children who are in prison fear violence and sexual assault. Suicide is a serious problem. Recidivism rates are higher than for children placed in juvenile facilities. The needs of children who commit crime are at least similar to those of regular school-aged kids who never get arrested. They need to acquire competencies and experience achievement. They need structure and limits to develop autonomy, discipline, and security. There is some evidence that the sense of retribution is tempering as child development specialists gather evidence to show that this debate is more medical than political. 83 endnotes
Main Term(s): Imprisoned/nonimprisoned delinquency comparison; Juvenile inmates
Index Term(s): Juvenile justice reform; Juvenile justice system; Juvenile offenders; Juveniles; Police vision standards; Sexually abused adolescents
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