If your teenager gets into legal trouble, you may feel they should pay for their offense. Young offenders should take responsibility for their actions, but not by risking their entire futures.
Unfortunately, this often happens when juvenile offenders are punished by incarceration or detention. Recent research shows that teens penalized with detainment typically offend again, thus beginning a cycle from which it is tough to break free.
High juvenile recidivism rates
Contrary to common belief, juvenile offenders are much more likely than adult offenders to break the law again after a stint behind bars. One study involving 30,000 juvenile offenders revealed that 40% of them wound up in adult prisons by age 25.
Incarceration also appears to affect the post-detention education of juveniles. Most of them never return to school or seek a diploma after being released.
Reasons for recidivism
According to psychology professionals, there are several reasons teen offenders typically relapse into criminal activity after detention/incarceration. Three of these reasons involve:
- Increased exposure to criminals. Some inmates force juveniles into illegal behaviors or actions by threatening assault or other harsh consequences.
- Reduced employment opportunities. Those with a record, even for juvenile offenses, experience trouble finding work aside from crime (robbery, etc.).
- Aggravation of mental health problems. Reportedly, a substantial portion of offenders has poor mental health, which incarceration may worsen.
If your youth is in trouble, have your criminal defense advocate push for an alternative to incarceration or detention. Most states, including Louisiana, offer programs for teens that help them pay for their mistakes without compromising their future. New Orleans alone has several alternative programs for juveniles and their families.