Nowadays the problem of juvenile delinquency is extremely important and the growth of the crime rate among youths is quite disturbing. In such a situation, it is quite natural that one of the major goals of the juvenile justice system to develop effective programs that could prevent juveniles from the commitment of crimes or cases of recidivism. At the same time, in spite of the variety of the existing programs, it is still necessary to underline that their effectiveness is not always high enough. Nevertheless, it is possible to find some programs which may be viewed as quite perspective though they basically represent two different approaches to the juvenile probation. These programs are the Intensive Supervision Program (ISP) and the Youthful Offender Program (YOP).
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It should be pointed out that both programs target at the prevention of crimes committed by juveniles but there exist some substantial differences in the approaches used by the programs discussed. First of all, it should be said that the ISP targets at the promotion of public safety through increased surveillance and risk control strategies. The program attempts to promote offender accountability to the victim, the offender’s family and the community at large through restitution, supervision fees, community service, support of family, mandatory school or employment, curfews and drug and alcohol screening. Also the program targets at the promotion of a long-term behavioral change by the offender by providing intensive services through substance abuse evaluation and treatment as well as other mental health services, life skills groups, cognitive thinking classes, educational and vocational training and employment skills.
Furthermore, this program implies that the probation officer visits, telephones, and otherwise checks on the client frequently and at all hours. It should be said that this program represents a phased system in which the frequency and restrictiveness of the monitoring decreases as the client succeeds.
It is worthy of mention that this program implies the use of quite sophisticated means of monitoring such as electronic monitoring that is traditionally used in the conjunction with other programs. Practically it means that the client wears an electronic bracelet and a specially equipped telephone is installed in the client’s home and alerts the probation officer when the client leaves the monitored area. The telephone also contains the breathalyzer to test for alcohol use. In addition, the probation officer can use a hand-held monitor that allows him to drive by the client’s school, or treatment facility, and detect the bracelet to assure that the client is at the assigned location.
Obviously, this program is based on the idea of a thorough control over the client’s behavior and correction process. It should be said that this program is really effective when it is necessary to establish the permanent supervision over the client’s behavior as this program provides ample opportunities to control the client’s at any moment at any place. Naturally, it may be viewed as an effective tool that can decrease the risk of recidivism among the clients. Nevertheless, this program may be criticized since it is basically oriented on a short-term success. To put it more precisely, on agreeing with its effectiveness during the fulfillment of the program and participation of a client, it is hardly possible to forecast the long-lasting effect of this program. Practically, it means that the program imposes certain model of behavior to clients but does not provide an opportunity to make independent choices. As a result, clients get used to the permanent surveillance but they cannot learn to make correct life choices without any external assistance.
Moreover, this program limits substantially the personal freedom of clients since they simply turn to be totally controlled by the probation officer that supervises them. This fact can have a dubious effect. On the one hand, the behavior of clients is supervised and thoroughly controlled, but, on the other hand, in addition to numerous physical limitations, this program produces a profound psychological pressure on clients because they actually feel the permanent supervision that can make them rebel against such severe restrictions. Anyway, this program cannot fully guarantee that clients will be able to lead a normal social life after the end of this program because they do not get used to make independent choices and they remain isolated from the rest of the community.
In this respect, the YOP seems to be more effective and more humanistic program because it primarily targets at the better integration of the youthful offenders in the community. In order to achieve this goal a number of community resources is used. However, it is worthy of mention that this program basically targets at the youths who has committed their first aggravated crime and, thus, are considered to be less dangerous than offenders that undergo the previously discussed program and who tend to recidivism. In fact, this program uses the community potential to rehabilitate and successfully integrate clients into a normal social life.
Naturally, there is no such a strict supervision like in the ISP and this is probably the most important difference of this program because it provides clients with an excellent opportunity to find the alternative way in their life after the commitment of a crime. In other words, they get a chance to make a conscious choice in favor of the integration in the community and normal non-delinquent life.
On analyzing the results of both programs, it is necessary to point out that the ISP turns to be more effective in relation to clients who committed crimes repeatedly and really need a thorough control, while the YOP is more effective in relation to clients who committed their first crime and should get a chance for rehabilitation within a community without strict surveillance and limitations.
Thus, it is possible to conclude that the YOP is more effective but it is necessary to improve or adapt this program in such a way that it could be really applicable to the clients which are characterized as recidivists, who in actuality really need more supervision than offenders that have committed their first crime.—————————————————————————–
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