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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77086 Find in a Library
Title: Youth Violence
Journal: Angolite  Dated:(March-April 1981)  Pages:17-38
Corporate Author: Louisiana State Penitentiary
United States of America
Editor(s): W Rideau; B Sinclair
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 22
Sponsoring Agency: Louisiana State Penitentiary
Angola, LA 70712
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Following a graphic account of an elderly woman's brutal murder by three teenagers, this article from a Louisiana prison magazine examines the causes of youth violence, advocates prison sentences for violent juvenile offenders, and describes an interview with a juvenile correctional administrator.
Abstract: According to FBI statistics and other sources, violent crime by juveniles, especially those in the 15 to 17 age group, is increasing rapidly. Most of this brutal, irrational violence can be attributed to youth gangs operating in city streets and schools. Although social theorists still explain delinquency in terms of social and economic factors, a major cause of youth crime is movie and television violence which teaches children that they can do whatever they want, use force when someone refuses to cooperate, and have no responsibilities. Gang violence in the 1950's was confined to intergang rumbles, but now city gangs attack outsiders and have arsenals of weapons. Citizens have responded by organizing vigilante groups, such as the Guardian Angels in New York City. Because vigilante justice can easily get out of control, the justice system should respond to violence by targeting only violent offenders for institutional isolation. The Nation's penal system could easily accommodate all the dangerous and violent criminals but only if the justice system was willing to unclog itself of the petty, nondangerous offenders. The New Orleans district attorney and other criminal justice professionals favor legislation lowering the age of criminal responsibility to 16 because this age group is heavily involved in criminal activities but receives lenient treatment from the juvenile justice system. This attitude of tolerating juveniles' disrespect for the law encourages reckless and lawless behavior. Social welfare programs and prison rehabilitation have no effect on violent crime which can be reduced only by the death sentence or prison isolation. Punishment should be viewed strictly as a legal response to a criminal act to protect society, not as a deterrent. The article concludes by interviewing the superintendent of the Louisiana Training Institute regarding his opinions on a reduced age of criminal responsibility, juvenile correctional programs, and the juvenile courts. Photographs are included.
Index Term(s): Criminal responsibility; Incarceration; Juvenile court waiver; Juvenile treatment methods; Law reform; Louisiana; Maximum security; Violent crimes; Violent juvenile offenders
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